Rekindle Our Identity in Jesus Christ

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. August 6, 2023.

Daniel 7:9-10,13-14; 2Pet 1:16-19; Mt 17:1-9

I went for confession some weeks ago when I was feeling burdened and interiorly restless. After I had confessed my sins, the priest said to me, “My brother priest, no matter what you are going through in life, never forget who you are in Christ Jesus by virtue of your baptism and priestly ordination.”

His words reminded me that I was first and foremost a child of God. I was vainly trying to find my identity in my status as a priest, or in my duties as a spiritual director, confessor, lecturer, or formator of priest and religious. Ignoring my identity as a child of God only left me weighed down and afraid. But when I give rightful place to this identity that I had in Jesus Christ, I began to experience so much peace, hope and strength to face the struggles ahead. It felt like Jesus was the one doing the heavy lifting.

When Jesus was transfigured on mount Tabor, the Father declared, “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased.” This statement shows us three things about the sonship of Jesus Christ.

Firstly, Jesus belonged completely to the Father. The Father referred to Him as “my beloved Son,” and Jesus in turn always referred to God as His Father. He affirmed a mutual and perpetual belonging between Him and His Father that extended to all that they both possessed, “All that is mine is yours, and all that is yours are mine.”(Jn 17:10)  

Secondly, Jesus belonged to the Father as a son. He did not belong to the Father as a slave but as son who was unconditionally loved and cherished by His Father, “For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all that He Himself is doing.”(Jn 5:20) The filial relationship with the Father endures even in times of sorrow and pain as shown in Jesus prayer to the Father when His Passion was imminent, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that your Son may glorify you” (Jn 17:1).

Lastly, Jesus was focused on pleasing the Father with all that He had throughout His earthly life. He never used His powers to please Himself in any way. He used all to fulfill the mission that the Father had given Him, “He who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to Him.”(Jn 8:29) He overcame all temptations because this desire to please the Father alone in all things was His greatest and fundamental desire. Thus, He replied to Satan during His temptation, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4).

These affirming words of the Father will sustain Jesus Christ to face His approaching passion and death. He did not give in to discouragement or quit because of the pain that was imminent. He faced and overcame all these because He is a beloved Son of the Father and He lived accordingly. Rooted in this identity, Jesus was completely certain of final victory, “Do not tell this vision to anyone until the Son of Man is raised from the dead” (Mt 17:1-9).

The Father also commands us to “listen to Jesus” because only Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, reveals to us our identity as children of God and gives us the grace to live according to this identity, “To those who did accept Him He gave power to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). No other thing or person on this earth can reveal that identity to us and give us the grace to be faithful to it always.

It is very challenging to be aware of this our identity of children of God in our world today. There are so many things that blur that identity today. This world also has so many temptations and distractions that make us settle for something less than our status as God’s children now.

We are tempted into believing that we belong to certain things or causes. Many are deceived into believing that they belong to a rainbow-colored flag or to a set of alphabet letters that keeps getting updated from time to time. Many also buy into the lie that they belong ultimately to a political party and its ideals. So many people allow their addictions or even sexual orientation define them completely. Others try to define themselves by a cause that they think is important like environmental activism. Some try to find their identity in ideals like fraternity and dialogue. Many of us allow our mistakes or successes tell us who we are. Many try to find their identity in their wealth, achievements, family name, reputations, etc.

None of these things can give us our true identity in Christ. It is to prevent us from the pain and regret from such foolishness that the Father declares to us all, “Listen to Jesus.” It is only in Him and through him that we can see ourselves as God sees us – His beloved children – and live accordingly.

Even when we accept God’s invitation to belong to His Son, we can settle for the status of a slave or servant. We behave as if we are just meant to serve and obey Him. We focus on our duties and obligations without being rooted in God’s unconditional love for us as His children in Christ. Because we fail to see God as our loving Father who cares for us and calls us into communion with Him in Jesus Christ, we trust in ourselves and our efforts and we cannot trust and depend on God in all things as we should.

When we see ourselves as mere slaves who are not loved and cherished by God as His children, then we lack generosity in what we do. We are always weighing our rewards to our service. We are easily overcome with shame and discouragement in our spiritual life. We easily become resentful of God like the elder son in the story of the prodigal son who said to his father, “All these years I have served you and you never gave me a little goat to feast with my friends.” In short, we lack peace, generosity, and hope.

Lastly, our consumeristic and hedonistic culture easily tempts us to seek to please ourselves alone. We will never do anything that demands sacrifice or selflessness or will not yield immediate and visible results. We would rather offend God than lose our comfort and pleasure. We have such an exaggerated sense of entitlement that we abandon Jesus at the sight of any suffering or pain. We hold on tenaciously to our plans and agendas even when we know they contradict the will of God for us.

These and other things challenge us in living as God’s beloved children in Christ today. The good news is that God never ceases to reveal His Son to us in Jesus Christ and invite us to begin again to belong to Him as His beloved sons and daughters in Jesus Christ. God’s command, “Listen to Him,” is directed to the disciples who were focused on their own plans for to build tents for Jesus and not on God’s plan for them at that time. It is also directed to us all today who can easily allow ourselves to be defined by something or someone else other than Jesus Christ.

All the saints are praying for us and also pointing us to focus on Christ who dwells within us. St. Peter does so emphatically in these words, “You will do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.”(1Pet 1:19)

Even the Blessed Virgin Mary is asking us to focus on Jesus and to listen to His words, “Do whatever He tells you.”(Jn 1:5)

The Christ that we encounter in each Eucharist and in each sacramental confession is speaking to us and revealing to us our true identity. He is giving us many graces to live according to this identity.

Let us now embrace our new identity in Jesus Christ so that we can experience the sustaining power of God in our lives and thus have the grace to face and overcome all things in this life.

Glory to Jesus! Honor to Mary!

Photo by Miguel Alcântara on Unsplash

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Fr. Nnamdi Moneme OMV is a Roman Catholic Priest of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary currently on missionary assignment in the Philippines. He serves in the Congregations' Retreat Ministry and in the House of Formation for novices and theologians in Antipolo, Philippines. He blogs at

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