Saturday, June 18, 2016

6-19-2016 -- 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

June 19, 2016 - 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church



We live in a time when the way we identity ourselves seems to be in a state of flux. The traditional ways we classify ourselves as human beings seems to be unstable. The answer to the question, “Who am I?” appears to be changing.

The ways we previously defined what it means to be human, how we defined family life and marriage and human sexuality and personal identity all seem to be unravelling.

It seems that Western civilization is slowly redefining what it means to be human. This is very exciting for some. This is very frightening and disturbing for others.

The shifting ground of human identity wreaks havoc on what it means to be male and female. But if we sift through Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians we hear Saint Paul himself speaks of shifting identities.

Saint Paul says there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is neither male nor female.

Saint Paul says to us that these identities that we think are all so important are not necessarily the ones we should focus on or hold onto.

Our religious affiliation and social standing and gender identity might not be as important as we might think they are. And that’s unsettling.

But Saint Paul boldly says that these are not the things we should treasure or hold dear. Rather, he says we must hold onto Jesus Christ.

Being in Jesus Christ gives us a new identity. Being in Jesus Christ gives us a new family. Being in Jesus Christ gives us a new way to answer the question, “Who do you say that I am?”

And Baptism is our entry into this new family, a family where all are welcomed: Jew and Greek, slave and free person, male and female, black and white, gay and straight, rich and poor, old and young.

We tend to identify ourselves in many different ways, and then use those differences as a way of dividing. But the most important way to identify ourselves is often overlooked.

Our identity in Jesus Christ is most important. And this most important identity does not divide. It unites us into one family of faith.

Our primary identity is found in Saint Peter’s answer to Jesus’ question “Who do you say that I am?”

“You are the Christ, the Messiah of God.”

Our primary identity is Jesus Christ, the only Son of God. And through him, with him and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, we become the children of God.

This Christ-centered approach to human identity helps us to become more understanding of and compassionate towards those who are different from us. To be Christ-centered is to be merciful like God.

So, we are called to transcend the other categories. Maybe they are not as important as we thought they were.

At least, Saint Peter and Saint Paul don’t seem to think so.

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