Socrates, one of the best minds that humanity has produced, considered self knowledge as imperative in one’s effort to understand reality as it is, as well as for one’s capacity to situate oneself properly in one’s society.
In his teachings, he used to repeat, time and again, the words from the oracle of Delphi: “Know thyself”. He knew that it is a difficult task that every man should carry on as he or she tries to re-define himself or herself. The same challenge still stands for the modern man.
Have you ever paused to ask yourself that basic and philosophical question: ‘Who am I?’ ‘Who are you?’ Well, you may think that it would be asking the obvious.
Not at all! In fact, a good number of our modern thinkers have identified the answer to that question as one of the root causes of the crises of our age; especially so when there is a big discrepancy between who we really are and who we call ourselves, or who we think we are. While some take that difficult question for granted; others look for its answer in the wrong place. Hence, missing the essence of the definition of the self.
Who am I then? Who are you? Some would hasten to give their name as the answer. Surely you are more than a mere name, you existed before you got the name.
Your being goes far beyond it. Who or what gives you the deepest perception into the meaning of your existence? It cannot be what you see every morning in the mirror because that is only your external appearance which is a superficial element of who you are.
Do you define yourself according to the nice words people say about you? You don’t want to know what they say about you in your absence! Do you describe yourself by what you do in life?
But you were there before your job and life continues beyond retirement! In brief, all these attempts of self definition do not give us the right answer.
The deepest perception into the meaning of your existence can only be found in your creator; God who created man and woman. Only in Him can we find the answer similar to the one given to prophet Jeremiah when he was preoccupied with the same question.
God said to him “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” This is what God tells you whenever you raise your mind to him in search of yourself.
You were in God’s plan long before you were born. The Psalmist brings out this idea in a better way: “O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar . . . all my ways lie open to you.” Ps 139.
God created each individual person as unique, important, and for a specific purpose. You are irreplaceable and God loves you eternally. In other words you are “a somebody” in front of God and with the intrinsic value that may be known to him only.
God does not only know you and love you; but you fit in his wide project of saving the world. He has a mission for you; a certain calling. Often times, when talking of a calling or vocation, people think of religious vocation only.
God has a project for each one of us. As Christians in a special way, we have been commissioned through Jesus Christ to lead a life worthy of adoption to become God’s sons and daughters.
Not because we are worthy or because we are a special people, but because of the grace of God the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit which dwells in us.
Through the Sacrament of Confirmation in a special way, we have been equipped with spiritual “gifts of the Holy Spirit according to the grace that has been given to us.” (Rom. 12:6).
Each Christian in his or her way, has been commissioned “to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witness of Christ and to confess the name of Christ boldly without being ashamed of his Cross.
That is why for us Christians, the question of who we are goes hand in hand with the question of the purpose of our creation. What did God have in mind when creating you? Do you feel that you have a special mission as an individual?
It needn’t be a great plan, but it must be there all the same. In fact before we think of our out ward mission, what is required of us first is to live as true children of God. That is both our definition and calling.