We have to be most aware of this fundamental truth about ourselves. Our identity is not just determined by our DNA, nor by our baptismal and legal name, our personal bio-data, etc. Our ultimate identity is that we are another Christ, ‘alter Christus.’ And if we have to exaggerate it some more, we are actually ‘ipse Christus,’ Christ himself. That’s what we are meant for.
We may not realize this truth immediately and may find it overwhelming and incredible, but that is what our Christian faith tells us. Why? Simply because we have been created by God in his image and likeness. We just did not come from our parents. We all come from God and belong to him.
We are made to be children of his, to share in his divine life and nature, to be actually one with him. That’s his will. We cannot do anything about it other than to try our best to conform ourselves to that truth — of course, with God’s grace and our all-out effort.
Thus, we have to go through the lifelong process of identifying ourselves more and more with Christ who is the pattern of our humanity and the redeemer of our damaged humanity. We have been given all the means. In fact, we have been given Christ himself, especially in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist!
We need to spread this truth of our faith more widely and earnestly break whatever barrier there is in all of us so we can become another Christ. At the moment, I believe that the majority of the so-called good people, good Christians or good Catholics believe that Christian life is more about doing good things, praying, sacrificing, doing works of mercy, etc.
All of these are part of what Christianity is all about. But Christianity has a more radical foundation. It involves making ourselves another Christ, assuming the sentiments and very identity of Christ, much like what St. Paul once said: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” (Gal 2, 20)
Even more, St. Paul said that we should have the mind and the sentiments of Christ. (cfr. 1 Cor 2, 16) We need to check ourselves from time to time if indeed the mind and sentiments of Christ are developing in us.
It is a mind and heart that is clean of pride and arrogance, of selfishness and greed. Rather it is filled with humility, goodness, mercy, willingness to suffer and to bear the burdens and sins of others, etc. It is a mind and heart that fully complies with all the teachings of Christ.
Of course, human as we are, we would feel awkward to assume that radical identity, but we just have to overcome that awkwardness. Progressively assuming that identity will actually give us peace and joy and the quiet conviction that we are doing the right thing in life, we are hitting the mark and not distracted by many other worldly things.
We would never feel the pride of the sinful type. In fact, we would be happy giving ourselves completely to others in a gratuitous way, passing unnoticed and not expecting any earthly reward. The virtue of humility grows ever deeper and stronger.
We would not mind being misunderstood and made to suffer even for the good things we do. We would be aware that we are co-redeeming with Christ since the work of human redemption continues all throughout time.
We should see to it that we realize we are meant to be another Christ and work it out tenaciously with the help of the ever-available grace of God. And yes, we have to help one another to make this ideal real in our life./WDJ