Our True Identity
My family loves games. When I was home over the Christmas holidays, we had great laughs with Snapchat. By using an app, we made ourselves into animals or creatures or characters. But we know our true identity is human. We have an ability to see who we are. We know our true identity is human.
There’s an old, well known story of a chicken farmer who found an eagle’s egg. He put it with his chickens and soon the egg hatched.
The young eagle grew up with all the other chickens and whatever they did, the eagle did too. He thought he was a chicken, just like them. Since the chickens could only fly for a short distance, the eagle also learned to fly a short distance.
He thought that’s what he was supposed to do. So that was all that he thought he could do. As a consequence, that was all he was able to do.
One day the eagle saw a bird flying high above him. He was very impressed. “Who is that?” he asked the hens around him. “That’s the eagle, the king of the birds,” the hens told him. “He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth, we are just chickens.” So the eagle lived and died as a chicken, for that’s what he thought he was.
I want to encourage you today that you are an eagle. Don’t die thinking you’re a chicken.
The reality is that we are made in the image and likeness of God. We were made to soar to divine heights. Our baptism into Christ, reveals our true identity as beloved daughters and sons of God.
There are many ways that I could go with this story and the readings; however, I focus on two. Number one is identity. Number two is becoming who we really are.
a. The prophet Isaiah says that God formed Israel in the womb and established a special bond with His people.
b. John the Baptist like prophets before him, called people to repent of their sins because they had turned away and rejected their identity and what it meant to be God’s Chosen People. They believed this faith that was passed down to them. They had blind faith, trusting that God was still with them despite their sins. God was with them even in the midst of their suffering. God did not abandon them even when their country was occupied by a foreign power.
a. John the Baptist identified the unique identity of Jesus as the Lamb of God. 1. Sacrifice for Passover as well as 2. The suffering servant from Isaiah. He points to Jesus as fulfilling the identity of this “Lamb of God.”
b. Of course, with the New Covenant, our identity is with Jesus Christ the Lamb of God who shed His blood on the Cross for us.
c. If we believe in the grace of the sacrament of baptism, we trust that that God is in us and with us. CCC 1279 The fruit of Baptism, or baptismal grace, is a rich reality that includes forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, is a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit. That is truly beautiful.
2. Becoming who we truly are – living up to our full potential.
In the second reading, Paul greets the church by saying: to you who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those everywhere who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
He identifies them as they truly are – sanctified in Christ. He says that there is a way of living which requires them to live according to who they are. If they are baptized in Christ and have the image of the divine printed on them, they must learn how to live and act like a holy person. Just like the eagle who never got trained to do eagle things, we will not live up to our full potential if we are not trained to live as saints.
Think about it this way: When our eggs were dropped into this world, we were raised into a culture here especially in the USA. We were taught to live the values of being human and American. Some things include the value of looking good. We gotta look good on the outside. But what about the inside? The value of gaining lots of power to be the better than others. The value to have lots of stuff: materialism. For us eagles, that behavior and way of life is for chickens. The lives of the holy ones, the saints, model to us that poverty of spirit and humility bring us grace and peace. To become eagles flying high, it takes time. It takes perseverance. It takes hard work.
To grow and mature as a baptized Christian, in my humble opinion and in my experience, takes more than just coming to church once a week. To fly high and soar like an eagle in the faith, it means having a desire to continue formation beyond high school. Bible studies, retreats, prayer groups, living through tough life experiences with spiritual guides are means in which we can reach our full potential.
We just celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ. God, like an eagle’s egg, dropped onto earth and he was raised among us, as a human. He was like us in all things but sin. The difference in the eagle/chicken story is that Jesus knew who He was, which was affirmed at His baptism when the voice of God said, “This is my beloved Son. Listen to Him.” Jesus showed us truly that our nature as Christians, (really as human beings,) is like His. He showed us the way to soar as divine sons and daughters of our heavenly Father. To reach our full potential, we need to commit ourselves to truly being formed as a Christian.