Knowing Who You Are


Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Zech 12: 10-11: 13:1; Gal 3: 26-29: Luke 9: 18-24

Dc. Larry Brockman

It is important, very important, for you to know who you are.  And it is also important for others to know who you really are- not who you would like to be, but who you really are; because that is the truth, and we must always live the truth.   

Now Jesus knew who he was and what His mission was.  After His baptism, he went out into the desert for 40 days, to pray and reflect on just those questions.  When he returned, he knew who he was.  Yet he asked his disciples who the crowds said he was, and who they thought he was.  Perhaps part of the reason was that he wanted to know whether he was projecting His true self; was he doing and saying the truth of who he was.  The Apostles said the crowds saw Him as a prophet, because that is how he came across in sermons and in His public ministry.  But His disciples, who really knew him intimately, knew who he really was:  Christ, the Messiah, the anointed one of God. 

Now the vision that we have, the expectations that we have, of God and the way He works are not always accurate.  Such was the case with the vision the Jews had of the Messiah.  They thought the Messiah would restore Israel’s unity; free them from their bondage to Rome; and establish peace and prosperity for the chosen people of Israel.  That was not God’s way.  God’s will for Jesus, His son, was that he tell the truth about God and the eternal Kingdom; bear whatever suffering happened to Him for telling the truth, even if that meant death, which it did; and then rise from the dead and commission his followers to spread the good news of His coming, death, and rising.  That truth was too hard for the average Jew of the time to swallow.  They wanted a worldly Messiah.  So Jesus entrusted the truth to his disciples alone, and asked them to withhold it until the proper time.   

What about you and I?  Who are you and I?  As Paul says, “You are all children of God in Christ Jesus”.  We become Children of God by virtue of our Baptism, our acceptance of our faith, and our practice of it; by loving God and keeping His commandments for us.  But what does that really mean for us?   

Well, just like Jesus, we need to enter the desert sometime in our lives, reflect on our baptism into the Faith, and determine how we live our lives in love of God.  Just like Jesus, we need to determine who we really are, and then, we need to show truth of who we are in what we say and do.   

Notice that Jesus went through his desert experience in his early thirties.  He did not start His public ministry till then.  And we know virtually nothing about Jesus from the time he was 12 till he was 30.  Presumably he did what his stepfather did- carpentry.  But that is still a long time- 18 years of carpentry before Jesus came to a conclusion of who he was.  I think we all have the same opportunity.  We are all given time to live life, and gradually come to the conclusion that there is more to life than what we want for ourselves and what this world has to offer.  For some, that may take 20 years; and for others it may be a lifetime of 40 or 50 years or more.  Now speaking for myself, I see it as a gradual process, and not a single desert experience.  I’ll bet that many of you would identify with that. 

Today is my 40th Wedding Anniversary.  I have to tell you that it has been 40 wonderful years, a wonderful spouse for all those 40 years who has loved me despite my weaknesses.  We have played together hard, and worked hard together.  We were blessed with 5 beautiful Children.  Together, we have tried hard to raise those children to be God fearing and practicing Christians.  Today, we are blessed with 9 grandchildren as we watch each of our children raise their families. 

But each of those 40 years have been punctuated with some miserable experiences as well.  One of our children died at an early age; both of us have had our share of life threatening heart problems; and Jane lost her best friend in the prime of life.  We haven’t always agreed with each other; but we have always managed to respect each other, and to get beyond our disagreements.  We have shared a common faith, as both of us were cradle Catholics.  That has really helped because we have stayed the course when things got tough.  The experts say there are 20 or so love hate cycles in each long term marriage.  We have been through some of those. 

So, from 40 years ago till now, I knew that I was a married man and a Father, but it wasn’t always my top priority.   I worked for some 35 years as an Engineer in the Aerospace Industry.  Years ago, I would have said that this defined who I was as well- an Engineer and manager.  But the reality is that after working for two of the industry giants all those years, I came to realize that a job in the secular world, no matter how much power and influence it brings, is not what defined me because loyalty in such a scenario is really tied to an economic contract.  We may have certain skills- God given skills and knowledge.  That helps define who we are, because it influences how we think and what we do.  But our jobs are not who we really are. 

And so as I look back on life, I realize now that the role of a Father and Husband was much more of who I am and was intended to be.   In fact, relationships in general are a big factor that determines who we are.  We are all part of the Body of Christ.  Each of us is integrally necessary for the Body of Christ to measure up to the full potential desired by the Father.  Basically, our identity has to be tied to community in one way or another.  And so, however your relationships define you, make sure that is where your priorities are.   

Because it is so important, know who you are.  Today, for those of you out there who are Fathers and Husbands, be that person.  Let that be your priority. 

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