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Seize the Moment: Who are you, really?

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Before I started working for the Church, I was a counselor. Sometimes I would ask my clients to complete an “I am” statement: “I am ____.”

It’s amazing how varied the answers can be: I am worthless. I am hopeless. I am unlovable. I am a failure. Each one is a lie that must be overcome before our thoughts can lead to right action, before we can radiate Christ.

Christians often say, “I am a sinner.” I think we say it out of a false sense of humility, or to make ourselves feel better about our sins. But, how does God complete our “I am” statements? Let’s see what Scripture says.

In Genesis, Chapter 1, as God creates, He also evaluates His creation. He creates light and says it is good. He creates land, sea, sky and their inhabitants and says they are good. But, when God creates man and woman, He makes a new declaration: “It is very good.” (vs. 31)

Now, we might object and say that all creation lost its goodness once Adam and Eve committed the original sin. But then how do we explain God’s good assessment of creation well after the Fall? For example:

“Yet thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor” (Psalms 8:5).

“We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).

And the clincher: “For everything created by God is good” (1 Timothy 4:4).

The fact is, man is good. Scripture clearly says so. But, how can this be? How can we be good if we sin so much? I’ve spent a lot of time reading and praying about this. While it hasn’t been easy, it has been fruitful, and I think I’ve found a solution.

Here are least five reasons why you are good:
1. Because God created you, and He is good. Nothing evil comes from perfect goodness.
2. Because God desires you, and as Aquinas says, “The essence of goodness consists in this, that it is in some way desirable.”
3. Because God loves you, and as the Catechism says, “Only the good can be loved.” (CCC 1766)
4. Because you are ordered towards goodness. Goodness is your beginning and your end.
5. Because you are made in the image and likeness of God. You were made to resemble God, and He is good.

Note that when I say, “You are good,” I’m not referring to the quality of your actions. Instead, I’m making an identity statement. I’m talking about who you are at the core of your being. Sin darkens your intellect, weakens your will, and strains your relationships. But, it is not who you are.

Your actions don’t define you. How could they? Does breathing under water make you a fish? Does flapping your arms make you a bird? Do a million pious actions make you a saint? No. Similarly, sinning does not make “sinner” who you are.

Yes, you have the ability to sin, but sinning is still just as unnatural to you as is breathing under water. You weren’t made for sinning, you were made for communion with God!

If you’re still struggling with this, ask yourself: Who would want me identifying with my sinfulness? Who would want me always thinking, “I am a thief. I am an adulterer. I am a glutton”? Satan would.

Now, ask Jesus: Who do you say that I am?

I know, we sin every day. But, if we can identify with our “very goodness,” then sin will no longer define us or have the final say. The next time we are tempted to sin, we can say, “I am not made for this!” Then we can live in the truth of who we are.

And the truth will set us free.

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