Who am I?

An elderly woman walked into the local country church. The friendly usher greeted her at the door and helped her up the flight of steps. “Where would you like to sit?” he asked politely. “The front row please.” she answered. “You really don’t want to do that”, the usher said, “The pastor is really boring.”

“Do you happen to know who I am?” the woman inquired. “No.” he said. “I’m the pastor’s mother,” she replied indignantly. “Do you know who I am?” he asked. “No.” she said. “Good”, he answered.

Baptism gave us a name. It gave us our own identity. We gain a better perspective on things if we have a deeper understanding of our Christian identity and calling. Any thought that we have, any word that we say, anything that we do are reflections of our being children of God, brothers and sisters of our heavenly Father.

Every decision is not just a compromise to decide what to do. Every deed is not just a determination to choose how to act. Every act is not just a judgment to do things right. Whenever we choose, whenever we decide, whenever we act, we determine what we are and we define who we are.

If we really know who we really are, then our problems in life would be lessened. It is when we are not grounded in reality, that our difficulties in life surface. It is when we are distracted by fantasies that problems in identity arise. It is when we fail to remember our Christian identity that problems in spirituality and morality begin.

Sometimes, it becomes difficult to open our eyes and confront what is before us. John the Baptist probably must have one of those moments. He had his own followers. He had his own territory. He had his own soapbox moments. But when Jesus came, he knew that his work was over. He faded into the shadows. He gave to Jesus what was rightfully his.

How was he able to do that? He knew himself and his mission in life. He understood from the beginning that it was not about himself. It was about being an instrument of God. It was about being an agent for change. It was about presenting the gift of God to a people gifted by God.

Some of us might be experiencing right now the same moments that John embraced, moments when we are afraid to let go of things we felt safe and secure, moments when we are asked to change for the better, moments when we are asked to move on. Those are not easy moments.

Every child faces those moments of letting go—the time when he or she was left alone to face the world, the time when their parents became more dependent on them, the time when they lost the parent who nurtured them.

Every parent faces those moments of letting go—the time when their teenager first learned how to drive, the time when they moved out and had their own family, the time when their children had to decide for them and took the role of being a parent.

Unless we surrender to those transitions and changes, then we will all discover what we have been really about. Unless we embrace those changes, then we will all find out who we really are.

God is continually calling us to change. This is what baptism does. It configures us to God, who is so radical, that sometimes he turns our lives upside down, uproots us from our complacencies and gives us the opportunity to do what we have to do.

No matter how old or young we are, we need to trust a loving God, who has called us by virtue of our baptism to a deeper responsibility. By virtue of our baptism and because of Jesus, we are all God’s Beloved.

For as long as we are needed, for as long as we carry out his will, for as long as we have to be somebody for someone, we continue the realization of our baptismal identity, the fulfillment of our baptismal mission.

10 January 2010

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