Recently, one of our diplomats was stopped by a policeman for drunken driving, and the individual in anger said to the policeman: Do you know who I am? Writing in a pastoral bulletin, the priest recalled a time when such responses were not rare. He has never experienced this kind of talk but has heard of persons using their position in society to crudely put down others.
The priest from his time in the seminary
has been interested in the nature of personal identity: What does a person consider himself to be?
What is he or she conscious of? Who am I? What is a Christian? What is a
priest? Our diplomat, by his remark, was showing, says the priest, that he was not conscious of his true identity.
diplomat residing in the country to which
he is sent is expected to represent his mother
country with prudence and discretion. By driving under the influence of
liquor, he not only forgot the need to behave responsibly, as expected
from someone in his position, but he attempted to use his position to
escape the legitimate penalty of breaking a law of the country.
remembers the words heard in a recent liturgy, from Jeremiah:
"Teaching will not perish for want of a priest, nor will there be a lack
of wise men to give counsel, or prophets to proclaim the word." These
words of those who were plotting against Jeremiah made an impression on
the writer. Predominating nowadays in those who have a faith life is
peace of mind instead of liberation and salvation. He wonders about his
Repentance is not a place we want to remain in;
leaving it behind we must return, he says, to our Lord. The priest
wonders whether his life is filled with speaking flowery words and
encouraging vague actions to those who are feeling discomfit and
are anxious to hear such words. Is he at times uttering words like a
false prophet? he wonders.
Lent is a time to look at the unwise
choices we have made and determine to rectify our relationship with our
Lord. We do not ask the kind of question the diplomat asked, but
instead ask ourselves, who am I? During this Lent, the priest wants to
make sure that he is in touch with the real person that he was meant to
The recent election of Pope Francis has already revealed many
signs of the kind of person our next pope is and will continue to
be. We will
gradually see how this translates into the words and actions of
his pontificate. Hopefully, the criticisms of the way he acted in the
past, in very serious circumstances, will not detract from the current
and forthcoming words and actions of the Pope, preventing us from seeing
him as the truly authentic person he appears to be, and we all wish to be.