Just Being You
by the Reverend Noel E. Bordador
My eldest sister, finished medical school but never became a doctor. Why did she go through all that trouble then? Well, she didn’t really want to be a doctor but mom and dad wanted her to go to medical school so she could become a doctor. She did it for them. I, too, was supposed to go medical school and become a doctor. Being a doctor is a noble profession. But I knew early that is not what I want to be or do in my life. Since I was young, I knew God was calling me to be a priest and that is the truth about me that I want to live. It reminded me of what Saint Joan of Arc said as she stood in trial before the Inquisition and was made to account for the truth of her life, she said, “I was born for this.” I didn’t know how to let my parents down gently. I didn’t want to be a disobedient son. But in high school, I read a catechism and there was a discussion on one of the Ten Commandments’ “Honor your father and mother.” The catechism said that we must listen to our parents; nevertheless, it would be necessary to follow our own path in life that God calls us to. It even said it would be all right not to follow the parental expectations if one is called by God to a different calling. So I told mom and dad that I need to live my own truth, the truth that God wants me to follow in life.
We have a certain seed of truth in us that would like to flower, an unfolding of the kind of person that God calls us to be, that God wants us to be. To be who we are not to be, to be who we are not meant to be, not to live the truth in us and not to live the truth about us is for sure a certain death. It is the death of integrity. If we deny the truth about us, if we deny giving voice to that person that God meant us to be, then how can we be honest about anything else? If we do not own up to our identity, if we don’t love our own personhood that God has gifted to us, then how can we love someone else?
Our identity, our life story is what God gives us. It is not just about our story but also God’s. As Paul says in the first reading from Acts, “We are the offspring of God.” “In him we live and move and have our being.” God is the Source of our life and we are made in the Image of Christ and each human life is an utterly unique expression of God in Christ. Yes, our lives have many commonalities, but in the end, there is only one of us, and our life’s journey and story with God in Jesus Christ is utterly unique to each of us.
But since we were born, many have been telling us how to live our lives. And sometimes, that’s what we end up doing. We live our lives according to someone else’s expectations and we mute the voice of God within, the voice that tells us to live the kind of life God has invited us to live. We become who we are not supposed to be. How many people do we know end up in jobs and careers that they hate just because they were too scared to trust their own intuition and followed someone else’s? How many people do we know who end up marrying the wrong person and not the person they were really in love with just because they followed someone else’s expectations. How many people do we know who hide the truth about themselves because they fear rejection by their parents or friends?
Our life’s integrity- as individual Christians and as Church- is ultimately determined by Jesus in whose Image we were created, in whose likeness we are made to grow in. Yet, so many things in the world distract Christians from the life to which they are called. So Christians started behaving in ways contrary to the Gospel. They do not follow the Christian way of life, and Christians often forget what Jesus said in the Gospel today: “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” We do things contrary to the spirit of love and truth. Let me give a few examples. Many value money or material things more than their relationships with God. Many commit dishonesty and justify them. Many tell untruthful things about others that they blaspheme the Spirit of Truth whom Jesus has given to us (as he said in the Gospel today). Sometimes Christians behave in mean ways towards one another by gossip, hypocrisy, or criticisms designed to hurt. And many times, Christians do not practice enough the kind of welcome and hospitality Jesus showed to the poor. We often find ourselves compromising our integrity and the truth of our life that God has intend for us to uphold.
Today, we hear from the first letter of Peter: “Keep your conscience clear…” Is your conscience clear? Are you living your truth, the truth that you are meant for love and to do love? Are you becoming the honest, just and loving person God intends you to be?
© 2014 Noel E. Bordador
Noel Bordador is a queer Filipino priest in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
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