Our True Identity

In order to properly understand this Gospel passage, it is worth considering the passage that comes before it. That passage is about the baptism of Jesus. 

You know the story: Jesus receives baptism from St. John the Baptist in the Jordan, the heavens open, and the Spirit descends upon Him like a dove.  Then we hear the voice of God the Father, whose words are perhaps the most important words to consider for today: 

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

When we are baptized, these words apply to us. Sharing in the sonship of Christ, we become God’s beloved. And not just His beloved, we become His beloved sons and daughters, with whom He is well pleased. This enhances our pre-baptismal identity of being made in His image and likeness. 

Therefore, our true identity is that we are beloved sons and daughters of the most high God, made in His image and likeness. 

I say this often. I hope and pray you get sick and tired of me saying this! 

This is an important reality we forget all to often! 

We forget it when we are cast out into the desert: you know the desert, that place of temptation and sin. Whenever we experience temptation and sin, we are in the desert, a place of dryness, dust, death, distant from God, separated from Him and others, and even separated from ourselves, left feeling desolate and disintegrated. That’s the desert. Learn to recognize it! 

But something else happens in the desert: we forget our true identity. We forget that we are beloved sons and daughters of the most high God, made in His image and likeness. Instead we begin to believe in a lesser, distorted truth. 

We begin to believe in lies about ourselves, lies fed to us by the evil one, the tempter, in our desert places. 

You’ve all heard them. You recognize them: I am ugly, bad, terrible, worthless. God doesn’t want to do anything with a sinner like me. I am always afraid. I will always be lonely. I am not man enough. I am not feminine enough. I can never be great. I can never be loved. And so on. 

These are all lies. 

Anything that falls short of the truth that I am a beloved son or daughter of the most high God, made in His image and likeness, is a bald-faced lie! 

I wish there were enough strong words in the English language to make that point clear. In fact, there are words to express this, but I can’t say them in polite or even impolite company! 

Anything that falls short of the truth that I am a beloved son or daughter of the most high God, made in His image and likeness, is a bald-faced lie! 

And when we start listening to those lies, we feel the pain of the desert, and we fall in sin.

Note Jesus: He holds onto the truth expressed by the Father at His baptism, and therefore, He is able to withstand the assault of the evil one. We need to claim the truth that we are beloved sons and daughters of the most high God, made in His image and likeness. We need to let this sink in to our very core. 

Only then will we be able to withstand the assaults of the evil one.