14 Jul 2015
It’s something we usually associate with adolescence, but it happens in the life of adults all the time: the struggle to belong and to be who we are. And that struggle often happens when the cultures we belong to collide with one another.
Right now, there’s a big collision over the marriage debate. Our Catholic culture recognizes one thing, but our American culture—or, at least, a portion of the American culture—sees something very different. We’re Catholics and we’re Americans. And so, this current cultural debate over marriage makes us ask the hard questions: “What is it that I believe? And what does that tell me about who I am?”
Now, as we know, Moses was Hebrew by birth. But he was raised as an Egyptian. And that caused problems for him when their different beliefs and values clashed. But when he killed the Egyptian in defense of that Hebrew worker, he made a statement that said: “I am Hebrew.” His sense of identity lay with the Hebrews; the slaves, the people of Yahweh.
And Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was also torn between different people and cultures. Not only did she witness tribal conflicts, she was also caught in the middle of battles between French soldiers and her native Mohawk village. Of course, the French had also brought the Catholic faith, which she accepted. But her uncle, who raised her from the age of four hated Christianity. Whom did she belong to? Her tribe? Her uncle? The Catholic faith?
We celebrate her because in the middle of that, she constantly chose Christ. The saints are those who say even in the midst of personal questioning: Yes, I am a Catholic and I belong to Jesus Christ; I belong to God. And whenever we encounter others with the same convictions, we find a home, a place of belonging.
Moses found that belonging and identity among the Hebrews; a people who were “sunk in the abysmal swamp, where there is no foothold,” except in God. St. Kateri also found a home: in a settlement of Christian Natives in Canada. God gave her her identity, but the community there confirmed it and strengthened it.
In the midst of some pretty deep cultural battles today, we need to be reminded of who we are and what we believe. And we find our place of belonging, our sense of identity right here, gathered together at the foot of God’s altar.