"A Third Look at Jesus"


This is a book written by a Filipino Jesuit, Carlos Abesamis S.J. I find it engrossing, but I hope it doesn’t contradict any official teachings.

There are at least three ways of fixing our gaze on Jesus. … The First Look at Jesus was the way Jesus understood himself, his own life and his own work. It was the look at Jesus through Jesus’ own eyes. Moreover, many of the first generation Christians, not yet influenced by the later Western outlook, also possessed the First Look at Jesus.

The Second Look at Jesus was the way Graeco-Roman and Western eyes later regarded Jesus, his life and his work. For example, while Jesus’ concern was the total well-being of the total human person, the Second Look tended to make redemption of souls Jesus’ concern. … This Second Look lasted from approximately 50 C.E. 1 to the 1960s! … This view is not wrong. In fact, with it people have reached heroic levels of zeal and holiness. Yet today, we must say that by itself it no longer vibrates with the rhythm of our people’s lives.

… the Third Look is the view of the Third World peoples. It is a look at Jesus, his life and his work—by and through the eyes of the poor peoples of the Third World. It is the look at Jesus by the poor and oppressed, the awakened, struggling and selfless poor, who want to create a just, humane and sustainable world. It is also the view of people who themselves are not poor but are in genuine solidarity with the poor.

The Third Look is very similar to the First. … The Third Look would be ill-at-ease with a Jesus that says: ‘Hunger is the will of God, a cross God sends you now in order for you to gain merits for heaven.’ The Third Look would be in search of a Jesus who says: ‘I want to see you freed from hunger.’ Well, that in fact is the way Jesus sees himself. … the concerns and questions of the conscientized poor are similar to those of Jesus …The First and Third Looks are first cousins. The Second Look is a distant relative.

Any thoughts? It doesn’t have an imprimatur and a nihil obstat. At the time the book was published, the author was:

“professor of Biblical and Contemporary Asian Theology at the Loyola School of Theology, Inter-Congregational Theological Center, and other theological schools in the Philippines. He is the co-founder of the Socio-Pastoral Institute (SPI), a founding member of the Ecumenical Association of Third World Theologians (EATWOT) and the Conference of Asian Theologians (CATS).”

bible.claret.org/catalog/scripture/cp_scripture1.htm (scroll down)

I realize discussing this is problematic for the low likelihood of others who’ve read the book too. :smiley: I own (or used to own) a copy, but found the entire book online. Not sure if it’s legal or moral (unless the author allows it) but here’s a link:


It sounds like a quite interesting book to me. It’s been my contention, one I learned from a priest and several nuns, that looking at Jesus’ life and works through as many different lenses as possible was useful in discerning the totality of the message.

I doubt you will get many replies. This site is extremely orthodox. I made one request for resource sites and was literally booed off the place with rude remarks. They are dangerously close to fundamentalism here. Two people messaged me privately with help, but they’re too scared to post here.


I’m not familiar with the book, but it seems to smack of liberation theology, of which the Magisterium has been both cautious and critical. I’d proceed carefully, and consider some of the Church’s statements on this issue.






I thought the same. One should always, in my opinion, give due regard to the opinion of the Magisterium in all things pertaining to faith. They have certainly had more experience than I have. Of course, in the end, with due respect and careful attention to both the pro’s and con’s of any writing, we must make our own decision. There are few theologies which are free from all defect or tendency to devolve into a dangerous form. Liberation theology is prone to Marxism, but on the other hand, it provides a wonderful model for the poor to see Jesus with them in Spirit. Some write more to one side than the other. All people who would study owe it to themselves and their Church to read carefully and fully, so as to be aware of possible pitfalls. We also have a duty to ourselves and our Church to study our faith in the fullest context possible. We must remember than what was once heresy is now orthodox. Periodically, another theologian is taken off the banned list.


Bump or necro, for those interested (and for those who aren’t :p). Been a while.

The book can be found online on the site of the Loyola School of Theology in the Philippines. Since the page in question seems to be (the late) Fr. Abesamis’ own (as he worked there), I think it’s legal. Also this site, unlike the above which I linked to in 2007, has appendices uploaded:


I’ve posted about this in the relevant group forums.

The following material (edited) is posted to pique your interest:

  • The title is explained:

We Need a Third Look. As we tread our spiritual path, it is imperative that we keep step with Jesus. … And so we fix our gaze on Jesus in our spiritual retreats and other religious activities. However, it is not enough to keep going back to the same Jesus time after time, simply taking a second look at Jesus. We need a third look.

Three Looks at Jesus. There are at least three ways of fixing our gaze on Jesus. As Jesus himself looks at himself - this is the first look. As Western theology has looked at Jesus - this is the second look. As the poor look at Jesus - this is the third look.

  • A new take on taking up our crosses (longer version in the group thread):

What is the proper way to understand [this]?

People who live after Jesus’ crucifixion may and do accept their portion of the bitter cup ‘because they follow a crucified Savior.’ In this instance, we may legitimately enough use the language ‘taking up one’s cross.’ But it is good to know that this is a transferred and secondary meaning. The original meaning, as Jesus spoke it before his own death on the cross, would seem to be: ‘Risk the cross! Proclaim the blessings of the Kingdom. Announce and defend life. Promote justice. Stand with the oppressed. Prophesy against the powers. Denounce. Be an irritant! Risk the cross!’ To dodge this cross while setting up dummy crosses, substitutes, is a way to miss the good fight that 2 Tim 4:7 speaks about.


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