This past Saturday I gave a Spirit Day retreat to forty-six eighth graders. I told them that I had recently watched the movie “The Lion King” again. In it Simba’s father states this memorable line to his son: “Remember who you are.” Simba is from a line of kings who someday will be responsible for ruling his land. Who are we? We are beings created by the almighty God and belong to him. As such we are noble creatures with an innate dignity. We are children of God, adopted at baptism, who have heaven for our inheritance. Therefore we are beloved sons and daughters of God. We are Christians, committed to Jesus and following the way he taught, or at least trying to. We are his friends and disciples. (The word means “students” or “apprentices.”) From our baptism we share in Christ’s mission as prophet, priest, and king. As prophet, we speak God’s word; as priest, we offer sacrifice for the world; and as king, we are a royal people. We are all Most Valuable Players. But on some days we don’t feel like all those glorious things. We make mistakes. People criticize or ignore us. We are frightened or cowardly. Our self-esteem is burst like a bubble. Then it is a challenge to remember who we are.
I shared with the retreatants the following story that may be familiar to you:
Once a lion cub, whose mother had been killed by hunters, was found by a herd of goats. They adopted him and raised him with their young. He was led to believe that he was a goat. One day when the goats were grazing in a field, in stalked a great lion-king. He gave a mighty roar, terrifying the goals. They all ran into the jungle except for the lion cub who thought he was a goat. He was alone with the lion-king.
At first the lion cub was afraid. The lion roared again. The cub only bleated and romped in the grace. The lion king realized that the cub thought her was a goat. So the lion picked him up by the scruff of the neck and carried him to a pond, hoping the cub would see that he was like him. But all the cub did was bleat like a goat, puzzled and frightened.
Next the lion-king put a piece of meat in front of the cub. The cub shrank back, horrified. But then, he tasted the meat. Suddenly the lion cub lifted his head and set the jungle echoing with a mighty roar.
Christ is like the lion-king. He tells us who we are. We are created to be fully human, noble, the kind of person he was. Through the grace of the sacraments, the Spirit enables us to be who we were meant to be, the one God dreamed we would be. We can always call on his help.
When we doubt our self-worth, we only need to look at a crucifix. Jesus thought we were so important that he willingly suffered tortures and death for our sake. It’s said that if we were the only one in the world, he would have done the same. You know the symbol of God’s eye, which is on every dollar bill? It doesn’t mean that God is always watching to see when we mess up. Rather, God loves us so much that he can’t take his eyes off us.
When do you feel like a VIP?