Occupation vs. identity: may the Advent season remind us who we are


By Deacon Bob McCoy
For The Catholic Messenger

How many times have you identified yourself to others by describing what you do?

I am a school teacher, contractor, stay-at-home mom or work in a store. The list can go on and on. What we do in life is important but it does not describe WHO we are. Our personal identity is much more important than what we do at work. Most of us have a problem separating our identity as a person from our occupation. We are so tied up with what we do we forget the deeper reality of who we are.

Dcn. McCoy

John the Baptist was asked: “Who are you?” (Jn 1:19) He answered initially by describing what he was not. “I am not the Christ or Elijah.” John then said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the desert, make straight the way of the Lord.” Are we willing to stand up and be counted as John was willing to do? Perhaps to answer this question we need to reflect on another question, do my actions and words reflect to others that I believe in following Jesus day after day?


Pope Francis recently said, “Every state of life leads to holiness, if lived in communion with the Lord and service to others.” He noted that we may be tempted to think that holiness is reserved to those who can detach themselves from ordinary tasks. We are all called to be saints! The question becomes, how do I answer this call?

Paul tells us to remember that joy, prayer and thanksgiving are important elements of Christian living. We should keep praying for a renewal of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our personal life and in the life of the world. Think how the world would be better if more people surrendered to the gifts and power of God through the Holy Spirit.

Ask yourself: What is it that I fear as I conform my life more closely to Jesus? How am I being transformed as I draw closer to Jesus?

This third Sunday of Advent is known as a time to rejoice as we draw closer to Christmas. We are now at the midpoint of the Advent season of anticipation. The Advent candle to be lit this Sunday is rose-colored instead of violet. The Mass celebrant may wear a rose-colored vestment instead of the more somber violet vestment. We truly lighten up our liturgical symbols. We take time to rejoice.
Advent is a good time to reflect on our relationship with God. Mary described her relationship with God when she said, “I am a handmaiden of the Lord, a servant sent to do God’s will.” Mary also proclaims in Luke, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” Her answer to God can help lead us to be people of hope who have the ability to rejoice always.

John the Baptist, despite his eccentricities, was sure of his deeper identity as he prepared to be a forerunner to Jesus. You and I are called to be more aware of WHO we are, following the example of

John the Baptist in order to draw closer to the Lord here and now. Our reward is to know the spirit of the Lord is upon us. (Is 61:1)

May the Advent season remind us of who we are.

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