The Big Questions
The Big Questions
Leo Philomin (Oblate Priest) gives expert video advice on: Why are we here?; What's going to happen to me after I die?; Can you prove that God exists? and more...
Why are we here?
It's the question of everyone, I guess. For me, God loves, God is love, and I believe that love can't be kept in itself, and God created us, God wanted to share that love with us. The world and everything is part of God's creation. I believe that. Part of my presence here is to be able to experience how God is loving us in this world and to be able to communicate that love of God to others. That's what Jesus Christ was about - coming to show us how much we're loved and helping us to show other human beings how to love, and how we are loved by God. That's the destiny, and my presence here is in order to enjoy God's love.
What's going to happen to me after I die?
I have a sense that it's about returning into God's light. It's about being able to share forever, in complete freedom, the love that I've only glimpsed through a mirror in a sense in this life. Our destiny is to be with God, and, for me, I don't know what that's going to be like. All I know is that Christ has said to us, through the Scriptures, through the Gospel, through the Church, that He wants us to be one with the Father. And the Father is God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the life of God is what I'm called to enjoy. Whatever that might look like, that is the destiny that I hope for, and I live by.
Why does God let bad things happen in the world?
Firstly, I don't think God allows anything bad or good to happen. God has created us, and the beauty of love is the freedom that he has given to us. When God has created us with love, I believe that he opens himself out to being vulnerable. When we truly love someone, we give them the freedom to choose to love us or not. The vulnerabilty of loving is to allow the other person to say, “ Actually, I don't want to be here. I'm going away.” You can't do anything about it, that is real love. That's what God did with us. But the freedom of choice for us is the freedom to choose God, or not to choose God. In life, it's difficult. Life is complex. With complexity and with human beings, we hurt one another, and we do love one another, and we hurt one another. All that happens to us. Bad things happen to us. A lot of bad things are done by selfish people, or self-centered people. But then you can look at things like illnesses and natural disasters. I don't say that it's God who does it. I think they happen, and my presence to those things is, “What does this tell me about who God is for me? What is God asking me? How is he asking me to respond when someone is ill and dying? How is God asking me to be his presence?” In the Tsunami that killed so many people in Sri Lanka on Boxing Day, on St. Stephen's Day, the day after Christmas. What is God telling me when I celebrate Easter Saturday with all the joy and pomp and the worship, and everything that goes on. During that week, to hear that the worst fatality in Iraq, for the lcoal people, and the soldiers who're dying. Where do these sit together? It's what I struggle with, I can't explain them well, but all I know is that God is asking me to bring hope to these situations. He's asking me what my response is when these are happening; and through me somehow, to bring God's presence alive. One of the best things I heard is a South American Bishop who said that, “Even in the moments of disgrace, grace is present.” Even in the most baddest of events, something of God is also present. How can I allow that to be present through me? How can people of faith allow God to be present in whatever is happening that is considered as bad in the world, or unimaginable that God would leave us in this.
Can you prove that God exists?
What convinces me that God exists, or God is present, is just in terms of people that I have met, like when I think about my childhood, my memories of it. People of faith. I'm talking about my two uncles who were priests. My memories of joy and freedom and laughter and fun come from these men visiting us. There was always that sense of “you can do anything you want here” and they were really friendly. And then people who have inspired me to become my best are people who have been religious, who have had faith as part of their life: my relations, church. Helping one another is important. The other thing I find is that just in the goodness of people when I meet them. Just some of the most heart rending stories that people have to tell and as a priest you would meet that very often. If there is no God, then where is this hope that the people have coming from? Because there is so much hope in those people, they've gone through everything, some of them. They've lost everything and there is still hope and that has to be something of a miracle in our world. And God is who gives us that hope, and then I would be inspired. I've been inspired by people of faith like Mother Theresa, Bishop Tutu in South Africa, Bishop Hurley also, one of our oblate bishops in South Africa who worked for the change that happened there, who gave their lives in different ways. And just in a personal conviction, deep down, I'm a Christian because I'm loved. I can't explain to you why, but deep down I know I'm loved. It comes from my family, my people that I'm around and everything else. But you can take them all way and somehow I know I'm still loved and that's a conviction and that for me is God telling me that.