January 2, 2020 – Memorial of St. Basil the Great and Gregory Nazianzen, Bishops and Doctors of the Church
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/010221.cfm)
What is easier? To pretend who we are not or to be who we truly are? With the culture that has develop in the recent years through the use social media, it has now become easier to pretend who we are not and to portray to others a self-filled with pretensions. An individual can just create multiple accounts on Facebook or Instagram and portray a different image of himself or herself. One can just display an image of himself or herself on social media sites different from what is really true.
Such attitude must have come from a deep longing to satisfy a person’s desire to be recognized, praised or accepted by others. The person’s environment such as the home, neighborhood or workplace must have been source of rejection and judgment. Because of this, the need to be accepted will persist and will lead a person to look for other ways where he or she will be recognized even in a superficial way.
Hence, the space provided by the social media would allow the person to be recognized and praised. Gaining likes, shares, comments and followers are ways of a person to be recognized. This could also lead others to portray happy occasions through their pictures and videos in order to hide a painful and traumatic background in their life. Others would show how affluent and comfortable they are in life to hide their insecurity due to poverty. However, such attitude can also become problematic. Portraying to others whom we are not, distances us from our true self. This also leads ultimately in our rejection of who we truly are before God.
In the First letter of St. John, it reminds us to remain in him. To remain in God is to be able to accept God in our life and become more confident in Him who is with us. To deny God removes us from His presence and thus will also lead us in denying who we truly are before Him. Only in remaining in God that we also inherit eternal life, which means, joy and a blessed life with God.
Such call also reflected in today’s Gospel, John the Baptist reminds us of the importance of recognizing our true self before God and before others. Priests and Levites asked John if he was the Messiah or Elijah or some great prophets from the Old Testament. John already gained popularity among the people. People sought for him and followed him. He gained influence and became an authority. John now could just easily pretend that he was someone else of great importance.
However, John was honest enough to admit that he is not God nor a great prophet. He was just a simple and humble friend of God, whose voice cries out in the dessert to bring people closer to God.
This is what God calls us today on this second day of the year, that we become more accepting of ourselves with all our weaknesses and problems as well as our strengths and potentials. Being honest with ourselves is also being honest with God and with others. To fully accept who we are also leads us to humbly acknowledge God in our life. To fully embrace ourselves makes us happier and joyful. In this way, we may become an authentic person who is not bothered of any pretension and insecurity but confident in God who loves us. Hinaut pa.