Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“Change Yourself” doesn't imply to be like everyone else

“First of all, although men have a common destiny, each individual also has to work out his own personal salvation for himself in fear and trembling. We can help one another to find the meaning of life no doubt. But in the last analysis, the individual person is responsible for living his own life and for "finding himself." If he persists in shifting his responsibility to somebody else, he fails to find out the meaning of his own existence. You cannot tell me who I am and I cannot tell you who you are. If you do not know your own identity, who is going to identify you?” - Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O (American Catholic writer and Trappist monk)

Scripture Text: (IS 49:1-6)
Hear me, O islands,
listen, O distant peoples.
The LORD called me from birth,
from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.
He made of me a sharp-edged sword
and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.
He made me a polished arrow,
in his quiver he hid me.
You are my servant, he said to me,
Israel, through whom I show my glory.

Though I thought I had toiled in vain,
and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,
Yet my reward is with the LORD,
my recompense is with my God.
For now the LORD has spoken
who formed me as his servant from the womb,
That Jacob may be brought back to him
and Israel gathered to him;
And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,
and my God is now my strength!
It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,
to raise up the tribes of Jacob,
and restore the survivors of Israel;
I will make you a light to the nations,
that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

“The Lord called me from birth; from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.” (Isaiah 49:1)

Call to mind your identity, your true identity. Often in our society when we are asked who we are or to describe ourselves we respond with, “I am a student, a teacher, mechanic, businessman, mother, father, etc.” While these descriptions are true, who are we really? When you strip away everything of this world, who are we? We are beloved sons and daughters of God. Why don’t we answer this way? Why do we continue to define ourselves by the world, in its emptiness and nothingness it has to offer, when our true identity, which comes from our Heavenly Father, offers us everything, EVERYTHING! Jesus Christ suffered and died upon the Cross that we may have eternal life with Him. No it’s not a sports car, promotion, 4.0 GPA, fancy house, the newest iPhone…this is ETERNAL LIFE! He is offering us a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, to know God.

Yet so often we continue to choose what the world offers us, turning our back to God. This can be greatly discouraging; I know it is for me. There is hope that we are not alone in this when we look at Peter in today’s Gospel (John 13:21-33, 36-38). When Peter was with Jesus, in an encounter with him, his faith was strong and he says to Jesus “I will lay down my life for you,” (John 13:37) yet shortly afterwards Peter would deny Jesus three times. How often when our faith is strong, when we have a real encounter with our Lord, or when we are in consolation and things are going well we make bold prayers as Peter did, promising so much to our Heavenly Father. But when suffering comes, when our Lord seems far away, when times of desolation linger we too turn our backs and deny our Lord as Peter did.

Why is it that we forget so easily all of the blessings that we have received from our Lord, the moments of great grace and love? I think it comes back to the beginning, knowing our true identity. When we become discouraged, we forget that we are beloved sons and daughters of God; when we become afraid, we forget the love and care that our Lord has for us; when it seems like everything is falling apart, we forget that God has a plan for us and our goodness. But the end is not when we forget. Our Lord is always inviting us to come back to him, no matter how far we strayed from him, to receive his mercy and love, to be renewed in our identity as his beloved sons and daughters.

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