The Book of Wisdom reminds us that we are more than computers or instruments to memorize information and regurgitate when needed. Often times, with the rise of machinery and technology, we, ourselves, too, have often been treated as another object or piece of the formulaic calculation to achieve maximum benefits. Unchecked capitalism and its greed-driven motives oftentimes made people into objectified pieces of utility, to be used and consumed while making them always hungry for appealing things to fill the empty void. Nonetheless, that emptiness can never be filled because it is a God-given desire for the eternal and transcendental. Humanity is endowed with reason by the Creator, and this reason should lead us to the pursuit of wisdom and truth. Therefore, if we do not actively will, seek, and put into practice with our search for the truth and wisdom, we will become people filled with unhappy, never-enough, never-satisfying redundancies.
Without a doubt, as human beings, the first and foremost priority should be the search for truth and knowledge. We are much more than machines that retain information, calculate, compute, or set to do certain tasks and expected to optimize productivity. We are much more corporeal products and utilities to be used, calculated, and objectified. We are human beings with dignity, created with love and endowed with a purposeful mission and end; therefore, we should be treated with respect and challenged to seek things that are higher than what is set by shallow, calculative, manipulative, and formulaic standards.
In philosophy and many spiritual writings, great thinkers warned us about the mechanization and manipulation of by those who are in control. They might seem to feed us a lot of information, but they tend to keep us only focused on things that are not important. There are plenty of sprinklings of hedonistic passions with some momentary pleasures, appealing things, or distractive matters, but nothing is really substantial. Hence, people are captivated, passionate, occupied, and adamant about little, apparent, temporary things but they do not have any knowledge of transcendental, everlasting, and truth-centered reality. When people do not have any in-depth understanding of themselves, the knowledge of things that are life-giving, or the desire to seek wisdom and truth, they simply occupy their lives with immediate, shallow, momentary, apparent, and seem-to-be captivating gratification and lesser goods.
We are made in the image and likeness of God, endowed with reason and guided with faith. This is not some passive, unintelligible, and ignorant way of life. We are called to use our knowledge to comprehend, understand, discern all matters according to reason, but also let what is going on in the current moments of reality be in line, appropriate, and guided by divine, eternal, and everlasting values and truths that is grounded in the Creator who endowed us with reason. Therefore, St. Augustine reminded us that, “To wisdom belongs the intellectual apprehension of eternal things; to knowledge, the rational knowledge of temporal things.”
We are much more than goods and objects to be manipulated, used, or exchanged. We are more than numbers, intervals, or parts of a formula or calculation. We are much more than rational animals or beings that retain information and to be used as objects and tools. This holistic understanding of who we are, what we are called to be, and where we are going that is founded on the strengthening of character through virtues. Therefore, if we do not exercise our mind in understanding and seeking of substantial knowledge, the world will try to fill us with shallow, appetite-based apparent goods. When our mind is not fixated on higher truth and knowledge, it is easy to seek what is available, appealing, readily, and satisfactory. Furthermore, if we do not use our knowledge to seek transcendental, spiritual, and eternal values and goods, we will become preoccupied and focused on temporary, changing, self-centered, or immediate gratifications alone.
Our reason and knowledge should lead us to seek the eternal, beautiful, and true. That is why many liberal arts studies and majors focus on this creative, soul-searching, and life-giving aspects of life. When we seek, create, and give life to beautiful things, we praise the Creator who has given us the gifts and talents to cooperate with Him in giving life to innate matters and ordinary practices. The studies of arts are liberal because they give the pursuers of truth and beauty the ability to freely receive inspiration, create, and give life. By creating and giving life to arts and things that are beautiful, we point to the things that are worthwhile and beyond what could be comprehended or satisfactory at the moment; in other words, when we create something beautiful and edifying, we partake and cooperate with the Creator in giving life the works of our hands.
It is sad that our education, especially the present university system is no longer teaching our children and students matters that are worthwhile, substantial, and life-giving. We have inundated our young people with information to retain and regurgitate when needed. We no longer invite our children to seek things that are transcendental and everlasting, using their knowledge to judge, create, and give life to all earthly things. Too many times, we just tend to allow ourselves to become another part of the mechanization of people into products, tools, and utilities to be used. We no longer are formed and taught to seek the truth nor encourage to seek wisdom. We have fixated ourselves with opinions, theories, and hypotheses of that sell progress but nothing substantial. We have allowed ourselves to chase after untested, fluctuating, and trendy things but do not know where we come from, who we are, and where we are going. We compute, receive, and intake well but we have not been taught how to think, reflect, discern, and seek the truth.
Many of us are clueless of real reason, understand, and wisdom because we have not been taught to think, seek, know our mission and purpose, and especially to desire the transcendentals. When we fixate ourselves on the matters of this world, we become parts of it, hence simply a part of the equation, its manipulation and enslavement, without having the ability to transcend, rise, free, and seek what is real and eternal. Because we have lost sight, focus, and understanding of who we are by the Creator, we get stuck being parts of the food chain and rat race, only thinking about climbing up the ladder to have more power, prestige, wealth, and influence as the only way to escape the manipulative game.
One simply goes to school, take some tests to college to get a degree in order to get a job. One is taught to retain information and become a solution, part, or instrument in the project-based, corporate, or social organization world. We have lost focus of the search for wisdom, especially the holistic yearning and desiring for the beautiful, truthful, and transcendental values and their manifestations through human works. We have allowed ourselves to become products to be used, inputs of the greater formula, tools to solve the bigger problem, or rats in the endless and tiring rat race that leads to nowhere. We have permitted ourselves to be stuck in the realm of flux, constantly moving from one problem to the next but we never really know who we are because we have not seek the wisdom that transforms, only to be smart with information-based knowledge to solve and achieve set goals.
Let us go back to the Book of Wisdom, especially 7:22-8:1. It lists the qualitative transformation of the person of Wisdom for those who seek her. She helps one, not only be filled with intelligent but also to have clarity as to have an unstained, certain, holy, unique, magnanimous, unhampered, and kind qualities in our relationship with God and others. Her way is subtle, yet pure, pervading, and penetrates all things with her presence. She transforms holy souls from age to age, but most important of all, “she produces friends of God and prophets.”
Wow! Imagine that! In our search for wisdom, we will be transformed into friends of God, knowing and speaking on behalf of Him. We are reminded that we are called to be in a personal, self-giving, committed, and loving relationship with the One who desires to set us free from the shallow worldly manipulations and lifeless redundancies. As the biblical wisdom tradition continues to develop, we begin to understand the word, “sophia,” which means wisdom in Greek, is developed and tied with the “logos,” — Word of God — Jesus Christ. It is He who came to show us who we truly are, not only with empty words but also with real, life-giving actions! In the words of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, we are taught: “Because of his boundless love, Jesus became what we are that He might make us to be what He is. Who was the Son of God became the Son of man, [so] that man… might become the son of God. [Therefore,] The glory of God is a human being fully alive, and to be alive consists in beholding God.”
Through the teachings of Christ Jesus, especially His everlasting love for us shown on the Cross — and each time at Mass with the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist — we are shown of who we truly are as children of God. He revealed to us the true wisdom, nothing hidden or reserved but in plain sight of who we are. His teachings have the power to set us free if we believe! Sadly, too oftentimes, we have allowed ourselves to worry about other titles, abbreviations after our names, temporary goals and worries sidetracked us from seeking the truth that will set us free. In other words, we have let the fake promise of earthly happiness and temporary joy steal our true joy and peace in the Lord.
Therefore, let us reclaim our identity in Christ Jesus. Let us not only focus on the information-based exchange of knowledge, intelligent that only serves a utility purpose, or reason without wisdom. We are much more than those things, we are not products to be consumed and tools to feed on to this utilitarian, objectified, and consumeristic agenda! Let us not forget to teach our children and young people through the proper education of real reason, knowledge, and understanding, the one that is holistic and based on human virtues, form character, and point us to wisdom and truth. May we not lose sight of what is truly beautiful, contemplate and reflect on what is eternal and everlasting, and use our intellect to seek what is eternally worthwhile in the Creator. May we not just end up being products and tools to be used but as collaborators in the Lord‘s vineyards, co-creators in giving life through thoughtful and creative beauty of our handiworks, and lead people to everlasting values that lift up our hearts and minds to what is truly substantial.
Let us seek true joy in being children of God, to speak and give life on behalf of Him, and lead people to Him with our words and actions, life and our creative handiworks. Let us reclaim who we are in the Creator and allow our creations to be the works that glorify Him, lift others up to the transcendental, and form character through a life of virtues. May our love for wisdom leads us to the truth, and the truth will set us free!