Become who you are: personhood (#1)

by Daniel Murphy on February 3, 2007

John Paul II by John Murphy
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“He plunges into the depths of reality whenever he enters into his own heart; God, Who probes the heart,(7) awaits him there; there he discerns his proper destiny beneath the eyes of God.”—Gaudium et Spes #14

John Paul II was a protagonist of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960’s and often referred to it as a “sure reference point” for our time.

A key emphasis of Vatican II is communion—of the Holy Trinity as three divine Persons, of marriage and family,of the Church. This communion assumes and is built on an core truth: the human person is made in God’s image and likeness (what he/she is) and is called to love (what he/she does). A person can only give “what he or she has.” Communion is an exchange of persons, who are equal in dignity and capable of mature self-giving.

John Paul II by John Murphy“Become who you are,” a famous formulation that John Paul II used on many occasions, succinctly tells this two-fold truth about the human person. The person is created by God and is called to become more through conscious, deliberate, voluntary decisions and actions.

Isn’t this a marvelous point-counterpoint? I’m made (my being), and I make myself (my actions). And, my greatest, most noble action is love, communion, self-giving.

It’s interesting that “become who you are” is an imperative. It’s incumbent upon us to freely and responsibly exercise our capacities of body, mind, and spirit towards the good, the true, the beautiful . . . or risk descending towards their opposites—to our degradation and the harm of others.

We are not static, but dynamic, in our awareness of the world and the choices that face us, in our attitude towards ourselves, others, and the world; in our actions that embody what our awareness and attitude have discerned.

That’s why what we pay attention to, ponder, and consider plays a key role. If we direct our awareness, attitude, and acts/actions towards what’s true, good, and beautiful, we will become ourselves more fully–as Mother Teresa said, “something beautiful for God” and, we might add, others.

“Become who you are.” So simple, powerful, decisive. Seeing the truth about who we are as persons (made in God’s image and likeness and called to love) is the crucial starting point. On the level of the heart, we know this to be true. It will guide and shape our proper destiny—towards self-giving and -realizing communion with God and others.

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