REFLECTION: Theological life PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 04 January 2012 14:26


We have just begun a new year with the liturgical celebration of the solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. In the gospel of the Mass, we are told about the shepherds who went to see the child Jesus simply because they were told by an angel.

They believed and obeyed in all their simplicity, and they were rewarded immensely. As the gospel narrates, they went back, “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, in accord with what had been told them.” (Lk 2,20)

More significantly, we are told that Mary also “treasured all these things (what the shepherds told her) and reflected on them in her heart.” (Lk 2,19)
The elements of being told, then believing and obeying, then treasuring and reflecting on what was told, are prominently bannered in this gospel. They are elements that comprise the nature and character of faith, of what it involves and demands. We need to be familiar with them because they comprise the basic elements in our life.

Our life is actually never just our own project, our own design. It is fundamentally given and directed. It involves a law that has to be followed, a force and impulse that comes from outside before it is made our own. And for sure, it is a force that never ceases to be external to us even if we have already made it our own.

This is a fundamental truth about us that needs to be ventilated more widely, more persistently and creatively, because we tend to forget it or at least to distort it. If only this idea, this piece of basic truth could just be a blurb repeated often on radio and TV or a slogan or motto in schools and offices, I think we would be doing great.

We need to live a theological life, a life continuously fueled and driven by faith, and not just by reason, feelings and instincts. Not even by our sophisticated sciences, technologies and arts.

Our problem is that we are at present succumbing to a rationalist and technological mentality which puts our reason and other human capabilities as the prime defining force of our life.

If not that, then we are stuck with the other extreme, the low end of a lifestyle of bondage, slavery and addiction in drugs, sex, food and drinks. People become so self-absorbed, so dominated by their passions and instincts that not even reason, much less, faith would have any effect.

More than anything else, this challenge is the most important. It may not be the one immediately felt, but it surely is the one that goes together with our ultimate goal in life.

Remember what our Lord said: “What does it a profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” (Mt 16,26) And that episode of Martha and Mary when our Lord told the busy Martha, “you are troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10,41-42)

Both instances clearly show us the priority of prayer over action, faith over reason, the spiritual over the material, the sacred over the mundane. It’s not the latter elements are bad. They just have to be kept in their proper places and fed by their proper nourishment.

Yet, this distinction and relation between these two sets of elements is hardly known nowadays, not to mention, lived. Many of us do not know how to integrate them properly in their ordinary daily lives.

This is where the need to talk, explain and effectively portray the theological life comes to the fore. In fact, it would seem that any talk about theology or anything theological is immediately blocked off or considered as restricted only to some people who may have the heart for it. They don’t realize it has a universal applicability.

There’s certainly an urgent need for the appropriate evangelization and catechesis on this basic point. This should be primarily done in families and schools, with the Church always promoting it.

Of course, more than just talking, what is needed is widespread giving of example, of showing living testimony of the wisdom and practicability of this truth. We need to see many people effectively living this truth, such that a certain appropriate culture and lifestyle would develop in society.

Theological life involves prayer, sacrifice, sacraments, developing virtues, sanctification of one’s ordinary work and duties, apostolate as a necessary consequence of all this, done in all levels of life.