As human persons, we are really complex. We’re created in God’s image and likeness. We’re more like God than we are like the ape. We are the Rolls Royce of all living creatures. More correctly, we are the starship Enterprise where every other living thing is, at best, a tricycle. And that’s why it’s so easy to screw up being a human being.
The more complex a thing is, the more ways there are to err when applying or utilizing it (think calculator vs. a supercomputer). Human beings are infinitely more complex than any other living creature. An ape can hardly screw up being an ape. A salmon can hardly go wrong being a salmon. A human person however can get his own being wrong in all sorts of ways, because we’re so deep, so amazing…so complex.
Human Being: A human character possessed of a spiritual soul and a physical body. Human Person: The essence and foundation of the whole human being. A person is a person, regardless of their stage of development, regardless of their health, regardless of any subjective measurement of their value in the world. Being (verb): The expression of the person.
Living life in a way that is positive, rich, and naturally joyful is a process that’s full of balancing acts. Is it wrong to get angry? Is it ok to be lazy? Where do we draw the line between being sexual persons and being lustful, or where do we draw the line between righteous anger and unrighteous (wrong) anger? Where’s the line to be drawn between justice and mercy, between patience and tolerance? How much should we go out of my way for our kids, our spouses, our friends, or even a stranger?
People get these balancing acts wrong all the time. We’re designed by God, and being true to God’s original design is tricky work. But it isn’t impossible. Mastery of the self is a discipline that is freeing, empowering, and is totally within our grasp. The starting point is simple: Be like Jesus.
When we read the Gospels we don’t get an account of everything Jesus Christ says and does while on Earth, but what we do get is a clear image of the entire person and nature of Jesus. His words, his behavior, his thinking, his deepest interests and concerns. Most importantly what we get from all of that is the model of his being; how he applies those things to life, and to the world around him.
Jesus is indeed God, but while he is a divine person he is also possessed of a human nature. In other words he is God, but he also is a human, just like you are. Everything he experienced on earth—every significant thing, and every trivial thing—he experienced as a man, the same way we, as men and women, experience life on earth. It would be incorrect to say “It was easy for Jesus to be so good and so kind to everybody, because he was God” or “It was easy for Jesus to be religious. After all, he was God. I’m just a human”. That’s wrong. The expression of his being was that of a human, same as you and me. Jesus is a real and true model for what we all can be, and a model for how we all can and should be.
In later posts I’ll take you through some examples of Jesus’ being, and show you what we see of his character in the Gospels, and how we should apply it in our own lives. Until then, remember…be like Jesus.
Ave Maria, virgo fidelis!