Grace to you!
A college student asked a classmate whom she admires how she developed a positive and authentic self-identity. The girl has some unique self-confidence. Many of her classmates wonder why she isn't afraid of being criticized for her sense of virtuous life.
She replied, “I'm just being me.”
“Being me” is the simplest way to describe the state of mind of someone who has an authentic, positive self-image. The person lives with such audacity knowing that one must not live ones’ life because of what others say or think. Otherwise, one would live to please others, a task that is practically impossible. It’s rather frustrating. What is important is to live one’s life, “be one’s self,” and the most blessed is to be one’s self in the practice of virtue.
To live virtuously, whether people love it or not, is wise, because even the life of vice isn’t a ticket to everyone loving you. So, live virtuous anyway.
Reading Saint Paul’s line in Romans chapter one, verse sixteen, I’m captivated by his word: "I am not ashamed of the gospel..." In other words, one could say that Paul's identity is so rooted in the gospel (the Good News of Christ—life and grace in Christ which is salvation) that he feels the audacity of his faith-experience. His faith-experience is for him his identity, an authentic positive self-identity. He is not afraid of living his life as a believer in Christ.
One could see his boldness all the way throughout his missionary works. Not surprising that is why he had strong objections against Peter’s (Cephas) pretentious life in Antioch. He rebuked Peter publicly. Why? Because Peter separated himself from the gentiles he had been eating with because some Jewish believers who belonged to the “circumcision party,” came to visit him in Antioch. By doing this, the first Pope (Peter) wanted to please his Jewish brothers (Jewish converts from St. James) to the detriment of the gentiles who didn’t believe in circumcision. Saint Paul couldn’t stand this sort of hypocrisy (see Gal 2:11-21).
These days, people emphasize being one’s self. Yet some believers say, “Let’s be like others.” Another way of saying this is, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” This is the death of authentic self-identity.
If one lives a life that is not his or her own, such a life is so conflicted that peace of soul is far fetched. Conflicting self-identity is terrible. You don’t wish anyone such a life.
There is nothing nobler than to be one’s self. If you’re a believer, there’s no need to be ashamed of the gospel you believe in. For instance, if you could freely express your faith in private, why can't you do so in your personal blogs, personal pages and social media sites? I don’t mean preaching as church ministers do. I mean simply being you. Why live two identities, two personas?
If you are proud of your identity as a believer and it truly influences your life to practice virtue, such as showing love to others, forgiving, being kind, hardworking, just, etc., what is wrong with letting people know who you are? What is wrong with allowing others to see what informs your “virtuous” outlook to life? Remember, this is not about blowing one’s trumpet. It’s about being you.
Personally, I believe that no one should be forced to become or behave in ways not consistent with their identity and core belief. It doesn’t matter what those beliefs are—if they are good, we praise them. If evil, we have laws against them. Divine law too. Authentic self-identity is living the truth about one’s self not living the lie.
May God give us the grace to live authentically, to be ourselves. Amen
By the way: Would you please pray for me? Today is my birthday. I will lift your petitions before the Lord during my Mass of Thanksgiving this morning. I’m proud of you, my family, and friends on social media. Thanks for being my readers and for your feedback.
God Love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday Week 28 Ordinary Time A: Rom 1:16-25; Lk 11:37-41]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.