Bulletin Letter from December 4 by Sr. Elizabeth O’Donnell, O.P.

A question often asked of children is “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” Responses may be such as an airplane pilot, a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, a professional baseball player. This question becomes more real and anxiety-ridden in our college years when deciding on a major. The decision seems to carry such weight on one’s psyche, it seems as if by making this decision, we will have emerged from the fortune-teller’s tent and the vote of our future success or fortune in life has been cast. However, interpreting this question from a professional standpoint only leads us to one level of living out our life; it focuses only on what we might do, it doesn’t really respond to who will we be.

The most profound experience I have had of asking myself, “Who do I want to be?” came for me after my dad’s death. Less than forty-eight hours after learning he had a brain tumor, the tumor burst and he was gone. In the shock and grieving, I reflected on many regrets of things unsaid or said, attitudes and behaviors I wished I had been more mature than to express toward him. I resolved within myself that when I see him again, I want to be a more mature woman. I want to be a woman that he would be proud of. I asked myself, who is the woman I want to be “when I grow up?”

In today’s second reading, we are told that when the Lord comes, “the elements will be dissolved by fire… and everything done on it will be found out. Since everything is to be dissolved in this way, what sort of persons ought you to be?” As adults, this question should take on a new meaning and call us to consider the living of our life on a deeper level; that of how we live our life. Who is the person we want to be? This is not about doing. Reflecting truthfully on who we are, the kind of person we are and who it is we want to be, (ie. Am I a woman of love? Am I a man of integrity?) may be discouraging. We may look at ourselves and find much that is distasteful and lacking. Here is where the good news of today’s readings comes in. God is like a shepherd who feeds his flock, God speaks tenderly to God’s people and forgives their guilt. God is patient with us, and is not lurking around every corner waiting to catch us in our failures and smallness. God wants for us to grow into the beautiful human beings we have been created to be, each one in God’s own image, created for love and to be love on earth. God is patient with us. God is actually waiting for us to come to him, to open to him and to believe in his power to save us, to heal us, to transform us.

God’s time is not our time. Advent is a time of waiting for Christ to come, to come within us and transform us. Our readings today speak of God’s tender love and forgiveness, and that God is faithful in keeping his promise that he will send us a savior who will redeem us from our sins. Christ has come and has redeemed us.

Who is it that you most desire to be? Who is the best person you can imagine yourself being? With God’s help, we can each grow into something more beautiful that we can ever ask or imagine and we will know true peace. “Be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.”