Saturday, September 28, 2019

Sacrifice, Relationship, and Personal Fulfillment

In society today, it is commonly thought that the meaning of life - the secret of becoming a mature human person - is found by achieving independence, autonomy, and self-sufficiency.

For most poor struggling human beings, this all seems rather incomprehensible or overwhelming. Not surprisingly, people feel isolated, lost, and frustrated.

But for those who are intelligent, strong, energetic, and idealistic this kind of thinking can become tempting. The goal of life appears to be self-possession and self-definition, a kind of radical power over ourselves. This leads us to view relationships as merely useful interactions with other autonomous persons that serve our needs or please us or are otherwise subordinated to our ultimate purpose of self-affirmation.

When we have this attitude, nothing seems more alienating than sacrifice. Indeed, the claim of Jesus that our vocation consists in the sacrifice of self-giving love for God and our neighbor appears incomprehensible, if not insulting or threatening to our human dignity. The idea of losing-myself-in-order-to-find-myself appears to be a self-negating paradox.

And yet this "losing of myself" in self-abandonment to God is not something that demeans my freedom or results in the loss of my dignity as a person. On the contrary, it is the realization of freedom and of the person. For God Himself is Infinite Self-Giving Love. The Trinity reveals that total self giving is at the very root of what it means to be a person.

Jesus says, "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (John 14:11). And we will fulfill the true meaning of ourselves as persons, we will achieve the destiny and fulfillment for which we have been created, by abandoning ourselves to Him and trusting in Him: "Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it" (Matthew 10:39). We don't "lose ourselves" into nothingness. We lose ourselves by belonging to God and to other persons in Him.

We have been created to become gifts, to realize our freedom as love, to live in relationship as persons, and to "find ourselves" forever in relationship to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.