You are Enough

the-holy-family-with-the-little-birdAs in seasons past, our recent Advent, Christmas, and New Year’s celebrations are now only distant memories.  The weather remains quite frigid and winter has not yet let go of its grip. But even if the days remain dark, we know that spring is ever closer and the sun will shine brighter with each coming day. Many of us are settling into our routines for the year with work, school, and family life.

I imagine that it was not so different for the Holy Family two thousand years ago. Although they were certainly gifted special graces, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph experienced many of the same challenges that we do today. For Mary and Joseph, the initial joyous Nativity celebrations of welcoming their Son into the world must have soon settled into the reality of taking care of their newborn and family life in Nazareth.

As a man, I often reflect upon St. Joseph and the cares and worries he must have felt after having been chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus and husband to Mary. He might have asked the Lord: Can I really do this? What will people think of Mary and I? Will I be a good husband? Am I ready to be a father? To be his father? How will I protect them from Herod?  I’m only a carpenter, Lord, how can I provide for them?

Mary, too, young as she was, must have dwelt much within her heart how she was to raise her little child. To be sure, Jesus was not just any child but the Infant Messiah, the Promised One of Israel. We know that she, in giving her fiat, trusted the Lord and was specially prepared for this task in her Immaculate Conception. Nonetheless, as any earthly mother would, our Blessed Mother must have asked similar questions to Joseph.

It is within that little, humble, hidden house in Nazareth that the three lived the most ordinary and humblest of lives. And yet, that changed the world. How is this so? What made the difference? Of the multitude possible of reasons, the one I offer before you today is that all three members knew their deepest identities. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph knew in their hearts, in the very core of their being, who they were and what they were called to. Having moved from that foundation, nothing in the entire world could shake them from it.

Each of us at some point in our lives must face two roads. We ask ourselves the question: Who am I? Why am I here? What is the reason for my existence? Which way will I choose to go? What kind of man (or woman) do I want to be? The way in which we answer these questions is of eternal significance.

Joseph confronted this when he was presented with the predicament of finding out that his beloved betrothed, Mary, was pregnant outside of marriage. In ancient Israel, this was a death sentence. He was faced with either the choice to give Mary up or to remain with her and risk the slander of the community. As the story goes, an angel came to Joseph in a dream and told him: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; and she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins”

Notice that the angel calls Joseph by his name and affirms Joseph’s status as of the royal lineage of David. Amidst Joseph’s confusion, the Angel speaks over Joseph his truest identity and tells him what he is called to in this life: to be Mary’s husband and to name Jesus. What earthly man has ever had a greater honor than this? Having accepted his true identity, his calling from God, Joseph finds his life’s fulfillment in loving and serving Jesus and Mary all his days.

Similarly, our Blessed Mother must have been understandably surprised and concerned when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her: “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:27). She was young, a teenager at this point. Imagine what you were thinking and doing at that age! As with Joseph, she was told “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Luke 1: 30-31).

At the Lord’s great invitation, Mary also was faced with a choice that would change her life forever — bringing with it both great pain and great joy — and she chose to say, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  Yes, she knew this was what she was made for, her truest identity as the handmaid of the Lord, to be the wife of Joseph, the Mother of Jesus the Messiah.

Finally, we come to the Lord himself. We recently celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We heard in Sunday’s Mass readings of that beautiful Trinitarian manifestation at the Jordan River, where St. John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, the Holy Spirit descends upon him, and the Father spoke upon him the words spoken from all eternity: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

It was there that Jesus too, divine and human as he was, received the Father’s affirmation, the Father’s love, and accepted his truest identity as the Son of God. I write this not in the heretical sense as the ancient Adoptionists or Arians posited: that Jesus somehow was adopted as the Son of God at his baptism or was created by God the Father, and therefore lesser than him, but rather to point out that Jesus’ baptism confirmed the identity that was already his from the very beginning.

As the Church confesses in the Creed: “We believe…in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages. God from God, light from light, true God from true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, through him all things were made.” Likewise, St. John says in his Gospel, “No one has ever seen God; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1:18). Yes, from heaven and speaking those words, God the Father has made Jesus known to the entire world and prepared his Son for his earthly ministry.

As Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were confirmed in and received their deepest identities in the bosom of the Father, have you done the same? Have you heard the Father’s voice? Have you heard him call you his beloved son or daughter? Have you listened to that most tender, loving, merciful voice? Have you rested upon his heart? Have you allowed God to hold you in his arms? As the Holy Family did, this is where we find our life, our rest, and our peace.

In my own life, as I am sure in yours, I have learned in difficult ways of what destruction and anguish happens if we go along a path apart from the Lord. I recognize that some here reading this may be wounded in deep ways and find it hard to receive any affirmation. We may believe that we are worthless, or unworthy, or are unlovable. We may have been wounded by our parents. Or our closest friends. We may have allowed lies, addictions, and criticisms to penetrate into the recesses of our heart and sought affirmation in all the ways outside of the Father’s heart.

In the cacophony of worldly voices, where we are bombarded by every promise of wealth, power, sensuality, or pleasure if we give ourselves to this and that, we must first remember who we are in God. One of the songs that has really encouraged me in the past couple of months is from the band Sleeping at Last. It’s called “You Are Enough.” The lyrics go like this:

“you are enough.”
these little words, somehow they’re changing us.
“you are enough,”
so we let our shadows fall away like dust.
“you are enough.”
these little words, somehow they’re changing us.
let it go, let it go, “you are enough.”
so we let our shadows fall away like dust.

As it has blessed me, I hope it blesses you. In it, in Scripture, in prayer, by the Sacraments, and through the blessing of your family and friends, may you discover anew that you are God’s Beloved Son, his Beloved Daughter. You do not have anything to prove to anyone. You are His and have been from all eternity. The task now is to simply live in that identity. Upon having heard the Father’s voice, discern what He has made you for and pursue it with all your heart. You are His. You are enough.

Rachana Chhin is a 24-year-old Catholic convert (via Buddhism and Evangelical Christianity) from Houston, Texas. He received his Bachelors degree from Baylor University where he studied International Affairs and the Great Books. He is now pursuing a Juris Doctorate and Masters in Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota. In his down time, he enjoys reading about current events, listening to classical music, and playing strategy games on his computer.