FAUSTO GOMEZ OP
I wish to reflect with you on my identity as a creature, a human being, a Christian and God’s adopted son. I shall narrow down my inquiry to three fundamental and simple questions: Who am I? Who are you for me? Who is God?
We start our reflection by facing the first question: Who am I?
MY PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY (# 1)
I am a creature in the universe. I am an ecological being, part of the universe. God is my Creator and therefore I ought to be a responsible creature that respects and cares for God’s marvellous creation, our common home, an awesome imprint of God. As God’s image, the human being has relative dominion over nature. This dominion, to be true, must be a caring and grateful dominion, a humble and penitent dominion:”And man, but a speck of your creation, wants to praise you” (St. Augustine).
I may be partly guilty of the deterioration of the environment, a consequence perhaps of my interior deterioration: “The devastation of the natural environment inexorably manifests the devastation of the interior world of contemporary man” (A. Auer). I do not forget the words of theologian L. Boff: “The most threatened species of the world are the poor.”
I am a human being. I am different from the other living beings and the irrational animals. I belong to the human species. I am an individual, body-soul, different from other individuals. I am a person, that is, a rational being: with a body to feel, intelligence to understand, and a will to freely want and to love. As a person, I am open to other human persons, and to creation. I am a religious being closely related to God as my Supreme Being, my Creator and my Father through his Son Jesus in the Spirit.
As a human being, I have a personal conscience that tells me that my happiness is found radically in goodness and my basic responsibility is to form well and obey my conscience that tells me what to do, that is to do good, and what not to do, that is to avoid and fight evil.
I am a Christian, a believer in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and of Mary, God/Man, my life and my everything. He keeps telling me: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). To be a Christian means to be in Christ, that is, to be a new creature (2 Cor 5:17). He came into the world so that we all may have life – and have it to the full (Jn 10:10) -, who keeps giving us life through the Spirit (Jn 3:5). The life that Christ brought and keeps bringing to me – to us – is the life of grace, which is a limited but real participation in God’s very nature, and initiates eternal life on earth: Jesus came down so that everyone “may have eternal life” (Jn 3: 16; 1 Jn 5:11-12). My life is rooted in grace, practiced in virtues and witnessed in love: love of God, love of myself, love of all neighbors, and love of God’s creation.
What is the purpose of my life? The purpose is to search for happiness, to be happy, which is the way to give glory to God. What makes my life meaningful? I need money: it is useful, but happiness is somewhere else. I may like power, but usually power corrupts unless it is used virtuously to serve others. I may love pleasure, but if pleasure is harmful to me or to others it cannot be the source of my happiness. I search for knowledge and realize the help of science and technology, but these may be well and badly used: only if ethically used they may help us be and improve our happiness. In classical philosophy and theology, only true wisdom, virtues, above all love, can make us relatively but truly happy in this life.
For a believer, Jesus is the icon of life and the happiest person to walk on earth. Blaise Pascal says: “No one is as happy as the authentic Christian.” Thus, my human life, the fragile and wounded life of a human person, can truly be a happy life: a pilgrimage to heaven by the way of the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus, who loves us unconditionally.
What is happiness really? Happiness is another name for love. In our imperfect world, happiness is hope: hope that tomorrow will be better. It will be, if I journey today – and every day – by the path of truth, freedom, justice and love. In this life, genuine love gives meaning to my life, in particular the love of Jesus in my soul.
I am asked by my humanity and my faith to care for life in the universe, in particular for my own life. As a human being I have a right to life and the responsibility to care for it. I am, therefore, against suicide. I am a human person, a human being with great dignity. I am also a wounded human being – and a sinner. After all, what do I have that I have not received (cf. 1 Cor 4:7) – from God, from family and friends? Realizing my constant need of God and of others makes me – should make me – humble!
A final question: Who is the human person for Jesus Christ? For Jesus Christ, “man is a being whose greatness consists in his openness and offering to God and brethren, and whose destruction stems from self-enclosure in his own selfishness; for Him, to be a human being is to love” (J. L. Martin Descalzo). In every human person, the Christian sees a son or a daughter of Him who wants to be called “Our Father” (cf. CCC 2212). All human beings, therefore, are my sisters and brothers.
In our next column we shall try to answer the second question: Who are you for me?