Simple life


Last month, our librarian invited some of us to the Book Sale at SM Megamall. In the car, I casually mentioned that it was my first time to visit Megamall again since I came back from my study. One staff from our Art Section asked me “So to which SM’s do you go?” I said “I always go to SM City North.” She said “Dun lang?” (Just there?). Amused by the incredulity in her voice I readily supplied “Oh, I also go to the other side, in Trinoma”, feeling a little proud of myself [Trinoma is just opposite SM North and is considered to be more upscale]. “Ay ganun, napakasimple naman ng buhay mo” (Is that so? Your life’s too simple). I was dumbfounded. I didn’t know what to make of the sweeping assessment of my life. I was tempted to put her on the defensive, but I catch myself. I actually managed to convince myself the comment was a cliché so I sealed my lips. Of course I was also avoiding the follow up question “So, how often do you go to SM North?” and another possible follow up “So, where and how do you spend your weekend?”

In mathematics to simplify an algebraic expression is to express it in its most basic form. This is done by performing all the operations shown in the expression that has made it look complicated. The simplified form is still equivalent to the original expression. That is, the value of the original expression and its simplified form are equal. For example, the simplified form of the expression {5[2(2x^2)+3x] – 20x^2}/15 is the expression x.

The simplified form of an expression is easier to interpret. It also frees the mathematician to transform it into other expressions should there be other quantities and relationships that need to be represented. I think this is true not only in math but also in life. We hear the call of vocation only later in life when our experiences and choices have already made us a little more “complicated”. Vocation is God’s invitation for us to be simplified. Our yes to the call is our yes to the simplifying process. In our simplified form, God will have a free-hand of transforming us back to His original plan for us without having to deal with our protestations. To live out our vocation therefore is not just live out an aspect of our life. To live it is to live our life. Our vocation is our life.

Paul received his invitation to the simplifying process in Damascus. This encounter made him re-read his life. It transformed him to what he was called to be when he was still in his mother’s womb. He wrote in Galatians 1: 13-16

You have heard, I know, the story of my former way of life in Judaism. You know that I went to extremes … But the time came when he who had set me apart before I was born and called me by his favour chose to reveal his Son to me , that I might spread to the Gentiles the good tidings concerning him.

After the Damascus experience there was no stopping this apostle to the gentiles. It was now Jesus or nothing for the man. To live one’s vocation therefore is to live in simplified form. This will allow Jesus a freehand to fashion us in Him so that we can participate in God’s plan of redemption like St. Paul did.

If only the simplifying process is as easy as going to just the nearest SM branch.

(SM is a chain of shopping malls in Philippines.)

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One thought on “Simple life

  1. I am amazed how you can equate living our Pauline vocation to a simplifying process. I remember one of our core values- simple lifestyle. And for me there are two people who model this for me- one lives in Canada, the other in Aranga, Makati. When I am a bit out of way, I think of them and their example pull me back either softly or fiercely to the way I must go. Then I tell myself, you must model too to others you meet along the way. This keeps St. Paul alive in the 21st century.

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