THIS IS one of the most intriguing statements of St. Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, he described how some people would be in the last days. (3,2-7) He warned us to be prepared to deal with them.
“People will be lovers of themselves,” he said, “lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — sharing a form of godliness but denying its power.”
Then he said that these people are “loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Everytime I read this passage I cannot help but think that we are actually drifting toward this direction. We cannot deny that there are now a big majority of people who are eaten up by self-love and by the consequences of such egoism, one of which is precisely that they may appear to be very knowledgeable about many things yet do not know God who is the source and end of all truths.
These words of St. Paul remind us of a most fundamental truth which we tend to forget if not contradict. And that is that all truth comes from God and that we would never be in the truth unless we are with God.
Regardless of the tremendous data and information we may possess, and also the vast knowledge we may have of the different sciences and arts, we still would miss the point, the real thing unless we start and end our studying and knowing with God.
What is worse is when with our big amount of godless knowledge, we can become invincibly convinced that we already are in the truth. Thus, we would definitively close the doors to God. We can be acting out the same story of the Tower of Babel, believing that we can have our ultimate good and happiness just by ourselves.
We need to convince ourselves strongly and often that we have to be with God to be in the truth and in everything that truth brings about — charity, justice, solidarity for the common good, etc.
When we notice that our pursuit for knowledge and the truth is mainly if not exclusively motivated by worldly values alone, like practicality, convenience, profitability, power, pleasure, etc., we have to convince ourselves that we are taking the wrong path. “What does it profit a man,” Christ said, “if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” (Mk 8, 36)
We also have to be strongly reminded that the pursuit for the truth and whatever is proper to us will always involve the cross, will always entail effort and sacrifices. We should not be surprised by this phenomenon, considering the wounded human condition we have in this world.
That is why St. Paul preached not so much about philosophy and worldly wisdom as about the crucified Christ who, he said, “is a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (1 Cor 1, 23-24)
In short, true wisdom resides in Christ, and Christ crucified. We have to learn to love the cross of Christ to attain the real, objective, global, radical and ultimate truth. All our human effort to study and learn should be inspired by the spirit of Christ crucified, otherwise, we will miss the whole point.
We might have some approximations of the truth and we can show some signs of wisdom, but unless Christ crucified becomes the be-all and end-all of all these, we would just be wasting our time in the end./PN