7 September 2006: Thursday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time
Luke 5, 1-11 Wisdom in Discipleship
When Jesus called Simon Peter, the night was past and all the circumstances were unfavorable. Peter said that they have toiled all night long and they caught nothing. However, Simon Peter’s move was to trust Jesus and follow his command to go into the deep and throw the net for a catch. And just as Simon Peter did so, he had a great catch that the nets were town into numbers. Later, Jesus would tell Simon Peter that from then on, he will be catching people.
I believe in the importance to going into the deep. The Latin of this is, “Duc in altum”. To go into the deep is the condition in order to catch people. All Christians are called, the same way as Simon Peter was called, to proclaim the Good News to the world. Thus, we are asked to go into the deep. To acquire depth in our faith. Maging malalim.
What does it mean to acquire depth? Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. We should not breeze through life without reflection, learning, and authentically living. We must develop the ability to see what is beyond sensible reality; to see the eternal truths beyond the empirical. At sea, one finds two major layers: the surface of the sea and its depths. The surface of the sea is what we see and what we touch. Sometimes we smell its saltiness. We hear the sound of the waves. In our life, the surface symbolizes what can be sensible to us. We see trees and microscopic organisms; we hear the noise of civilization and the reverberations of our heart. All the facts we memorize in class and the theories that claim order in the universe. We experience joy, pain, loneliness, and anger. Life can be a jumble and mixture of facts, tenets of knowledge, snippets of experiences but all of these can be a meaningless mess.
The deep symbolizes the things that makes life meaningful and worth living. At a family reunion, our relatives tell us that we look like one of our parents. The surface is the first thing they see, and then we ask, “Who am I?” apart from them. At the brink of a transition, whether graduating or taking the bar exams, the last step towards becoming a lawyer, we begin to ask, “Where will this lead me?” We know that our action is senseless unless it has direction. These questions lead us into the very center of our hearts, to the very purpose of which we were made. It is a journey that we take within ourselves. To find meaning in our lives and to have a sense of direction and purpose, mean to discover wisdom.
And what is wisdom? Wisdom is the ability to see things in God’s eyes. The university as an institution can guarantee the acquisition of knowledge, skills, and perhaps, the arts. It requires the objective credentials of instructors; it grants degrees and diplomas after appropriate testing and examination. But none of that guarantees wisdom. Not all of those who have been given awards and recognition by the university have wisdom. It takes a community to cultivate wisdom. Wisdom is learned in conversation, in friendships, in small groups, from and with wisdom figures such as teachers. Wisdom is an interpersonal endeavor. Wisdom is more than knowledge and skill; it includes values and a grasp of one’s own ultimate meaning and purpose. And only in a religious perspective, in the eyes of God, can one find wisdom.
It is strange that when someone close to us dies, the most consoling gesture is not an explanation of the facts of death, but the kisses our family give us, the hugs of friends we value, the assuring words of those who come to visit. Because in the end, death gives us a perspective of the truth --- that God is the beginning and end of our lives. He is the thread that connects the mixture of facts and experiences in our lives. And when we are able to see things in God’s eyes, then, whether we pass the bar exams or not, whether we experience sickness and health, whether we have a short life or a long one, it does not matter. What matters is that these experiences, negative or positive, lead us to God. Then, we may find ourselves at peace. We find wisdom. We discover depth. We find God.