Who are you?

In today’s Gospel (John 1: 19-28) John the Baptist is clear.

I am not the Christ, the Messiah, the savior. Neither am I Elijah or one of the prophets.

Who are you? Who am I?

When I first read Thomas Merton’s novel, My Argument with the Gestapo, I was moved by this passage:

“If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I think I am living for, in detail, and ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for. Between these two answers you can determine the identity of any person. The better answer he has, the more of a person he is…. I am all the time trying to make out the answer as I go on living. I live out the answer to my two questions myself and the answer may not be complete, even when my life is ended I may go on working out the answer for a long time after my death, but at least it will be resolved, and there will be no further question, for with God’s mercy, I shall possess not only the answer but the reality that the answer was about.”

But yesterday I read a short essay on Facebook by a friend, Rachel – a mother raising three precocious girls alone. I haven’t met the girls but I hope one day to meet these incredible young women.

In her essay Rachel mentions the importance of accompaniment in her life and notes, “Accompaniment is an act of resistance.”

This morning, asking who I am, I pondered how much accompaniment is a part of my life – or, at least, of my vision for my life.

A companion is one who shares bread with another. I hope and pray that I can grow into this. I tend to want to just sit at home and read and work on the computer. But I feel a call to accompany even more the people I live among, listening to them, accepting invitations to share a meal in their homes.

This is an act of resistance – to thinking and acting as if the world revolves around me, to the attitude of self-sufficiency – that I can do this by myself, to the blindness in the face of the suffering people at our door, to the principalities and powers of this world who want to ignore the weak and the vulnerable, to the forces that want to deny the possibility of the Beloved Community.

I did not make a New Year’s resolution yesterday, butI think I have one today:

May this year be a year of more accompanying, more sharing of tortillas at the table of the poor.



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