Who Are We and Whom Do We Become?
Today’s second reading in only two verses gives us a powerful way to understand our human existence. If you truly want to understand Catholicism begin right there. This highlights why I focus you away from the simplistic good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell.
What does it say?
St. John explains as you know from basic Catholic catechism that when we are baptized we receive the dignity of being children of God. We also know from our baptism that we receive what is known as a change ontologically which means at the soul level to our being. We are now Baptized in Christ and that makes us children of God.
St Paul in Romans 8 explains that we are also heirs as well, confirming the words of St. John here. The letter continues explaining that we do not know what God has destined for us but it will make us able to see God face to face. That means that our reality changes so that we become what is known as divinized. We become God-like. We can see God because we are like the God that we can see. When this happens, we experience the fullness of our destiny which is to be in the presence of God. We were made for this and this leads to the ultimate of human happiness. This is the hope that the apostles and saints always understood.
We begin with an understanding of our destiny. Pope St. John Paul II explained that this life here is the penultimate reality to our human existence. Therefore, this life here is the antechamber to that life there.
Our life and our call to turn from sin are not based on doing the right thing so that we can get to Heaven but in living up to our dignity as children of God. Children mature through a learning process. so too do we. We learn from God. We open ourselves to the process of purification through our choices and our experiences that God uses to transform us in the process to become more like him. our behavior is not about earning our way to Christ but in growing in the being to which we are called.
We journey to our destiny which is to be in the presence of God something that is beyond our imagination and our ability to imagine it and as witnesses to the world: this is what it means to be a human being. We do that as an invitation for others to come to understand their dignity.
However, we also know that there are other forces that despise the kingdom of God that seek its destruction that see us as enemies and our living our faith as their most painful witness. We live an internal battle in our lives against forces that see the children of God as enemies to be destroyed also on an ontological level. Therefore, it can be a difficult process.
Going back to Psalm 23: We walk through the valley of death following our shepherd who leads us with his rod and his staff. We invite others to join us.
Sin is the distraction that leads us off the path.
This is why we do not try to be good but to grow in holiness which is a higher standard to which we are called. Holiness is the sign of the children of God. We are people of prayer because we are children of God. We receive the sacraments as children of God. This is who we are and this is where we are going.
Paul does not name sins to avoid because they are bad, but because they are unholy. It is a completely different standard.
When we turn our back and step away from the journey to our ultimate destiny we listen to other teachings that undermine this truth from St. John and teach us that we are already gods. Therefore, we do not need to listen to God or his Church because we are already there. However, as Jesus says: by their fruits you will know them. I do not see the fruits of the world-leading us to believe that claim. I see only division and false hope.
If we are going to truly live our Catholic faith, we must understand this basic reality. You and I have a calling to live to our dignity as children of God. So that we can be the witnesses that Christ called us to be.
Every day when you wake up offer your day to the Lord as children of God, witnesses and ambassadors to His Kingdom because that is who we are.
When you sin confess your sins, not as someone who simply did wrong but who also lived below the dignity of the children of God and undermined the witness. None of us can live to the standard to which we are called which is why this is a journey to the fullness of that dignity. This is why we need all the sacraments to help us on the journey.
The world defines the human race through political and economic lenses. Those who fit those lenses are rewarded and those who don’t are punished. We however have a calling to live through an ontological vision. We will never match the life to which the political and economic lenses call us. So, we follow a different path to our destiny. One that walks through the valley of death where we fear no evil because our Good Shepherd is with us with his rod and his staff. He protects us as we both journey to our destiny and invite others on the way.