Saturday, May 21, 2011

Determining Authenticity

When a rare phenomenon comes along we all are interested. Expressions such as "happens once in a blue moon," "first time in recorded history" perk our interest, and we want to know more.

The Desk Columnist of the Catholic Times is curious why are  we concerned with certain words that seemingly bring into play the same mental default.  We use some words frequently, he says, because they seem so rare or are not related to the facts of our daily life. Authenticity is such a word. 

The writer says this word is not found in the Korean dictionary as now used, but we often hear the sense of it in daily speech: "doubt about  his authenticity", "how can we determine authenticity," and similar phrases. It is used with reference to grammar school athletics events, the post office system, the Four Rivers Project, government policy, when friends and lovers  become estranged, and in the Church. We all have a desire for this authenticity and when it's missing we grieve, a sure sign of  its importance in our lives.

To determine authenticity, the writer feels, is not difficult. One looks at all the facts to find their core essence, which should vouch for the shared authenticity of the facts.  In  situations involving persons, their true natures will be reflected, and authenticity revealed. However, here we have   a problem. For even if we have an objective view of the facts, each has his own viewpoint of the truth. With each one having his own way of measuring, we will have no agreement but a flood of words, and be left with doubt about the authenticity of what is being examined.

He presents us with the recent death of Osama bin Laden. Each sees what happened differently: those that celebrate it as a victory for justice, and those that see it as another instance of international violence.

For a Christian, there is a clue in the way we go about seeing  authenticity by asking several questions: Who is speaking the truth? Who is just? What is in harmony with God's will? We are often standing at the proverbial fork in the  road. However, if we are truly Christians this should not be true for long. For whether it's taking the road that Jesus has shown us or not taking it,  or being wheat or chaff, sheep or goats, the road to be taken is very clear. Because of our weakness, however, it's not easy to have Jesus come to our attention, and at times  Jesus' very authenticity comes into question. We mustn't forget that each one of us is a lovable person in his eyes; that we have  been called by him and will not be separated from him. Even today Jesus says to us:

"I solemnly assure you that the man who has faith in me will do the works I do, and greater far than these." The one who is following this road, the writer concludes, is the authentic Christian.

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