On Denial and Denial of Oneself


August 7, 2020 – Friday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time

First Friday: Votive Mass of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/080720.cfm)


What’s the difference between ON DENIAL and DENIAL OF ONESELF?

Being ON DENIAL is non-acknowledgement of the self. It neither recognizes nor own the self. It does not recognize ones failures and sins and so the person refuses to change and be converted. It is also the same as one denies his or her illness and so refuses any form of treatment or medication.

Thus, to be ON DENIAL is also a way of denying our responsibility over the wrong that we have done. We are on denial because we do not want our responsibility and take the consequences. This might be because of fear of punishment and/or because of shame that we will endure upon admitting.

A person who is on denial of one’s failures and sins could respond in two different ways. The person may project those failures and sins to others by making false accusations of people around him or her. One the other hand, a person may put the blame on others for such failures and sins while maintaining a self-righteous attitude.

We find ourselves in this kind of situation of being “on denial” through our explicit reactions when we are being confronted. When confronted we become angry and irritable, aggressive and reactive. In this way, the self tries to exercise control and dominance and when opposed, the person becomes aggressive. Or we may express a passive attitude and an indifferent response to confrontation. This is expressed in hiding or retreating from confrontation. Therefore, no matter how people around us would bring to our attention those failures and sins we committed, we are not moved because we have just lost our conscience.

Being on denial, then, is a hopeless effort to save and secure oneself, yet, in the long run we lose ourselves and others because we distance from the grace of God.

However, this is not what the Lord wants us to be. The Gospel today invites us to learn the attitude of the “DENIAL OF ONESELF.”

Before we can deny ourselves, there is a need first to acknowledge, recognize and own ourselves. This includes recognition of both weaknesses and strengths, of failures and successes, of sins and graces in us, as well as our needs, wants and desires.

Denial of oneself then, is an act of love, a responsible action and a life-giving response.

Think of what parents can do. When parents think more of the welfare and well-being of their children, in a way, they exercise self-denial for the sake of those whom they love. Parents find more life and happiness as they deny their personal satisfaction and wants for the sake of their children.

Think of the many medical front liners today also. Despite the danger of getting infected and being separated from their families, they endure such responsibility for the sake of others and for the good of our community. This is how self-sacrificing people find fulfillment in life despite the challenges in their profession or field of work.

Think of those who offered and volunteered themselves in both civic and  Church organizations, not because of the benefits they receive but to serve the community and the Church in their own capacity. These people find more meaning in life as they encounter and share their life with others.

These are expressions of the “Denial of Oneself.” To deny oneself allows us to bring ourselves before others, to make our personal satisfaction and wants as lesser priority for the sake of others. It allows us to make a self-sacrifice for the good and welfare of those whom we love.

Denial of oneself assumes responsibility and does things not just out of duty, but out of love, out of concern, out of kindness and generosity. This is how we find the Gospel message truly liberating, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Therefore, we discover more ourselves by relating with others. We begin to appreciate and love more ourselves by appreciating and loving others too because as we encounter others and let them be part of our life, then, we also begin to recognize the presence of the Lord in them and among us.

This is how we find “more life and lasting happiness” because we find God in the lives of others. Hinaut pa.                                          

Jom Baring, CSsR


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