These days, it is all too easy to lose touch with ourselves. Daily life seems to be getting faster; economic and social pressures seem to be greater; demands seem to be on the increase.
So often we react to challenges because we don’t have time to think things through. We find ourselves over-stressed and conflicted.
Signs of people losing themselves
Who does not know people whose marriages have not sustained the pressures of modern life? Children who have emotional and other personal problems? Others who suffer from addictions to drugs, alcohol, gambling or porn.
These are just some signs of people losing touch with themselves today. They will continue Australian social trends make it harder for people to know themselves.
Easter reminds us of who we really are. Its message invites us to reflect on the meaning of our experiences as human beings.
Why do people love?
Love and goodness are part of daily life. Tired parents care for a crying child; married people have daily routines to help each other; grandparents encourage grandchildren; children care for aging parents.
Work colleagues are friendly and honest; acquaintances give lifts. People seek reconciliation after arguments; teenagers often reflect personal ideals and a deep sense of justice. There are endless routine ways people reveal love and do good.
In every parish and community, there are those who can be counted on always. Then there are the many who do voluntary work in organisations such as the Catholic Women’s League, the St Vincent de Paul Society and the Legion of Mary – and wider community organisations.
Goodness is revealed too when people try to love and to do good, even if they don’t succeed; when they do wrong, and later regret it. There could be no regret for wrong doing without inner goodness.
Why do we reflect love?
People reflect love and goodness because our nature was created in God’s image and likeness. Human nature was created to reflect God’s infinite love and goodness. In all of us, there is untapped potential to love and do good more in all of us. None of us can exhaust our potential to reflect God’s justice and forgiveness, generosity and patience, wisdom and compassion.
Many take for granted times when they reflect God because ours is a materialistic society. We tend to compare ourselves to others to the extent that we suffer low self esteem. We love ourselves because we are blind to our likeness to God.
No one can love and do good in a vacuum. Hence, we are also social beings. Without others, we could not develop our potential to love and do good.
We are social beings because our nature was created to reflect the community of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Why do people do wrong?
For all our efforts to love, we struggle against selfishness. Resentments can frustrate efforts to forgive; judgementalness, our efforts to be compassionate; and weaknesses in the face of temptations makes it impossible for us to do always what is good.
Why do we struggle?
‘When people look into their own hearts, they find that they are divided within’ [1– Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes 13]. The source of this division is what St Paul calls ‘death’.
This is the result of the ‘original sin’ of our first parents. They chose to do what they wanted rather than to obey God [2 – Genesis 3].
Human beings in touch with their hearts cannot be happy while doing wrong.
Who among us has never wished that they could change or regretted acts of selfishness. Who has not regretted giving into temptation.
These are the wishes of people who sense that they have lost themselves to some extent: they have not behaved as they sensed they could.
The basic yearnings of the human heart
Who has not admired others and wished we could be more like them. We admire those who care for the poor and needy; put themselves out for others; stand for truth and justice against peer and social pressures and show great courage in times of adversity.
When we admire such qualities in others, we sense that we too should be like them. We would feel more ‘whole’ if we could be.
Reflective people recognise that human beings, on their own, cannot overcome selfishness, temptations or any of the other effects of original sin. They realise their need for help from someone greater – God.
During Lent we have been hearing prophecies about the coming of a ‘Saviour’ – one who would heal the human relationship with God. It is the Saviour who would heal the division with human beings, who would free them to live increasingly in the image of God.
Jesus Christ is Saviour!
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came among us to share with us his own divine life. St Thomas Aquinas taught that Jesus came to make us ‘gods’ [3 – Catechism of the Catholic Church 460]. St Peter wrote that Jesus came [4 – 2 Peter 1:4]:
… that you should share the divine nature and escape the corruption rife in the world…
Jesus taught us how to strengthen the divine within us. As we do so, love grows and selfishness declines; goodness strengthens, and temptations weaken; forgiveness grows, and resentments and hurts are healed. We become more ‘whole’.
God’s life grows within us if we pray, worship and keep striving daily to live as Jesus taught. Many ask: ‘Why do Catholics have to go to Mass every Sunday?’ They forget the words of Jesus [5 – John 6:53]:
If you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, you have no life in you.
Let us keep finding ourselves
Christ’s call is that we keep finding ourselves, not lose ourselves [6 – John 12:25]. The more we reflect God in our lives, the more we will be responding to Christ’s call.
To find ourselves, we need to take up the cross of striving to overcome all that divides us from within. We need to grow in the divine life Jesus shared with us – responding to that ‘divine nature’ we received at our baptisms.
May we all celebrate this year as ‘Easter People’ – people rising gradually above all in human nature that is not of God.