Who is the Real You?
One of my favorite preachers is Msgr. James Vlaun, who does a lot of online videos for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and is a priest from New York, where he works primarily in media through the website catholicfaithnetwork.org. I’ll watch his videos for some inspiration on what to say during daily Mass, and last week on the feast of Saint Bartholomew, Msgr. Vlaun took note of John 1:47, where Jesus states, regarding Bartholomew that there is no “duplicity” in him. His point was that Bartholomew was authentic, and He sees into his heart. When he follows Jesus, there’s no let me take care of this first or let me think it over or half-heartedness; he’s fully committed to it, and he will ultimately die for it.
Sometimes in our lives, we have to be less than forthcoming about something we are invited to. For instance we may be “volun-told” to be part of a group or committee; we may get “invited” to the boss’s dinner or another event we really don’t want to go to but are obliged to be at, or maybe feel like we have to keep our guard up at things like work functions. Understandably, there are parts of our lives that we keep hidden from others, and it may be we do things when we’d rather be doing something else. This is true for us all.
The problem can be when we have duplicity in our souls that isn’t addressed. All of us have it; it’s called the effects of original sin, and even Saint Paul reflects on this in Romans 7:15-20, wondering why he so often does what he doesn’t want to do because of sin. When duplicity goes ignored, we can end up drifting from the faith, or just kind of living our lives without letting God fully in to take over. So what are we to do?
First, recognize that God calls us like Bartholomew. When Simon Peter is called, he says to Jesus depart from me for I am a sinful man (Luke 5:8), but Jesus calls him anyway. Bartholomew is a sinner; I am a sinner; you are a sinner. Jesus knows our hearts are conflicted, so don’t fear going to confession, turning your sins over to God for help, and asking God for assistance with your struggles. What is it you battle? A sin of habit? Something of many years? Something that brings you shame? You may hide it from others, but eventually if ignored it’ll prevent you from being who you want to become, namely a saint, and can destroy you. Don’t let it – let God in.
Second, seek out people who you can be honest with. Sometimes we hide the “real” person we are from others. Surely we have to do this at times; you don’t treat a coworker like a confessor for instance. But it’s important we have people who are true friends, people we can open up our hearts and souls to, and not be afraid talking about the challenging things in our lives we are going through.
Third, we want to do things with a proper attitude and from the heart. Remember, this is different than emotions or feelings. A parent might feel that it’s not as much fun helping with a science fair project and making dinner after a long day at work when they might like to be out to dinner with their spouse or on the golf course. I love Christmas Eve Mass, but at 10 pm I’m a little tired on the third Mass of the evening and would feel like being in bed. But we do these things out of love, not a “what’s in it for me” kind of attitude. But if we do things asking “what will I get in return,” or use something we do and then remind the other person all the time about it, or make them feel bad for what we are doing for them, we’ve then got a problem. Or if we aren’t honest, saying we’ll do something, and then do it with a mean-spirited attitude, we’ve got a problem.
Lastly, try to encourage people to be authentic around you, especially close family and friends. As we age as kids, sometimes we might feel we can’t talk about what is going on in school or our lives; a spouse may feel they can’t be honest about something; or we fear letting our kids down. Communication is so important in our relationships, and if we want people to truly be formed and grow in holiness, it means helping them understand we are there for them to listen, to not be judgmental, and to help them grow as people.
Nothing is hidden from God, though we might pretend that it is. All of us have done things we aren’t proud of, but never forget, God loves us unconditionally not because of anything we do to get that love, but because God is love. So turn to Him and let His grace and love set you free.
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