QUEZON City, Aug. 26, 2016 — Opening the academic year of the Loyola School of Theology (LST) in this city, Wednesday, Bishop Pablo Virgilo David of Kalookan called on students to approach their studies with the eyes and heart of a child.
“Discover the world not as a prison cell or a big factory” but as a “spacious playground” and to look at Jesus not as a teacher but “as a playmate,” said the prelate during the Holy Spirit Mass.
David invited everyone to imagine the institution as a pre-school for “a genuine theological experience.”
“As we begin this academic year, I declare the playground called the Loyola Preschool of Theology open!”
For the one of the Church in the Philippines’ leading Bible scholars, it is important that theology students maintain that “sense of awe and wonder” as they undergo their theological training.
“I hope you, dear students and professors, are eager to explore the deepest mysteries of faith like little children having fun, like kids who are excited to dance in the rain, to gaze at the stars at night, and to play with insects,” added David.
Connected to this special attitude, he explained, is seeing Jesus in a different light.
“Perhaps the appropriate Jesus image [for us] would be the Santo Niño, the child Jesus dressed like the Little Prince,” said David.
The LST alumnus also cited the work of the French philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to drive his point. He recalled Nietzsche’s book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, where the philosopher mentioned “the metamorphosis of the human spirit.”
Like a child
The first stage, according to Nietzsche, was the “camel stage.” “We become beasts of burden and accept the loads that tradition give us,” explained David.
He said, at this stage, it seems that everything given is accepted without question “because we are in no position yet to question them.”
Soon, he elaborated, “we begin to question the world” and “become critical of traditions and institutions”
“We are always on the lookout for lies and deceptions,” he said.
“When we stop being angry and allow ourselves to be truly delighted by life as it unfolds,” he explained, this is when people reach the third stage and final stage of “our spiritual metamorphosis”, that of becoming a child.
“That’s when we no longer take ourselves too seriously and learn to laugh at our blunders. That’s when we can rejoice in the Spirit like Jesus in the Gospel,” said David.
He also stressed the importance of the Holy Spirit “who alone can teach us to understand God’s will and to respond with love to the God who loved us first.”
The prelate also admonished everyone to be like the Father “whose house has many rooms. He will teach us to make space for everyone, even those who may have wronged us. Yes, including fools and troublemakers, addicts, neurotics and psychotics.”
Founded in 1965 and run by the Society of Jesus, LST is an ecclesiastical faculty granting degrees in theology and pastoral ministry. (Roel Joe Abonal/CBCPNews)