By Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S.
Are we are who we say we are? Or do the actions of our lives reflect something different about who we really are?
I do and I do not like these questions. What I do not like about these questions is the wording. There is just something weird about the wording of these questions that makes me feel a little uncomfortable about the way these questions sound. Yet as weird as these questions sound, there is some wisdom in them. They invite us to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask how am I living up to the vision of who I say that I am? How am I doing at living into this vision of who God wants me to be? How am I doing at keeping the Lord’s word?
The “experts” like to tell us that we are to love the person whom we see in the mirror, and we are not supposed to be critical of the person whom we see. Or they may tell us that the person we see in the mirror is a mess and needs to change. Still another may say the only person who has control over the person that you see in the mirror is you. But in my experience of looking at myself in the mirror, I typically see a person of beauty, I see a person who is living into the vision of who I want to be and who God wants me to be. At the same time, I also see a person who is not living into the person I want to be, the person who God wants me to be. I see a mess and that tells me that I have work to do. To be living better into this vision.
In our scriptures today, we hear of the early Christians doing what they think is best to remain faithful to keeping the Lord’s word. In doing this, they were living into the early vision of what it means to be Christian. And the disciples were successful at doing this. I mean, as the apostles preach this message we hear that “three thousand persons were added” (Acts 2:41) on one day and other places we read about how numbers got added to the church. As the church grows, the question becomes, how are we to be faithful to the word of God? How do we live into this vision of being Christian? Some leaders said they needed to follow the Mosaic practice and other said they did not. They were not sure so they prayed and sought the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God gave them a new direction on how they were to be faithful to the word of God. This new direction led them “to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage” (Acts 15:29).
Fast forward to 2019, we are still Christians, still followers of the Lord. We are still striving to be faithful to the word of God. Like our ancestors, we live the faith that has been handed onto us. Like the early church it is not always clear for us how we are to live in that vision. It is through prayer and Holy Spirit that our faith evolves and as it evolves, the Lord leads us. And sometimes that leading, leads to somewhere different than our ancestors. Are we open to where the Holy Spirit is leading us? Are we open to living in that vision the Lord has for us?
Fr. Matt Keller, C.PP.S., ordained in June 2018, is the parochial vicar of the Dayton Region Seven parishes, which includes Emmanuel, Holy Trinity and St. Joseph.