That was a question that Jean Valjean asked himself when he faced the dilemma of becoming a criminal yet again or living out the life that he was destined to have. It was the question that Javert asked himself before throwing himself in the river Seine.
It is the question we ask ourselves everyday if we do not yet know what life holds for us.
These past weeks a recurrent theme in my life is the question: Who am I? From French class who asked to recount my heritage, my grandparents, my family and my village to the recent showing of Les Miserables here in Geneva.
In Les Mis, Fantine sings in “I dream a dream” that she imagined her life to be different and not exactly where she was at that time in the margins selling herself so that she may buy the life of her daughter Cosette. How many times have we found ourselves in the margin, thinking is this the life I was meant to lead? Or is there a greater sacrifice?
It is also reminiscent of the message of Christ. Lent started just a few days ago with Ash Wednesday and the ashes being crossed on each of the faithful's forehead. “Who do the people say I am?” Jesus asked. It didn't matter what the people said because He knew who He was and no one could change that. And Peter's “You're the Messiah” was evidence that he chose to see with his heart and not with the eyes of his human form.
As Father Richard said in his sermon, Lent is not about giving up things but becoming the person that God wanted us to be. God did not want sacrifices or holocaust, he wanted us, the us that He created.
But who am I? That is the question in some our minds. I often ask myself that. Who am I really? My mom calls me by many names in the hopes that I will become one of those things: writer, professor, horticulturist, entrepreneur, etc. And yet, I am not really any of those things.
Is it in my head that I dream that I would like to be a published writer some day? Is it a dream that I would like to tend to an organic farm some day? Is it far from reality that I could be a businesswomen who can support herself? And the list goes on.
The question remains, who am I? Am I really those things? Or is the calling from God more basic? Fantine sings: To love another person is to see the face of God ... Yes, the challenge is there in defining who I am and who you are. In the times that God challenged us, did we show love? Did we show compassion? Did we see His face in others? Did we see His love for us? Do we know that we are His creation and therefore also Love.
Who am I? I am yours, the song goes:
Who am I, that the Lord of all the earthWould care to know my nameWould care to feel my hurtWho am I, that the Bright and Morning StarWould choose to light the wayFor my ever wandering heartNot because of who I amBut because of what You've doneNot because of what I've doneBut because of who You areI am a flower quickly fadingHere today and gone tomorrowA wave tossed in the oceanVapor in the windStill You hear me when I'm callingLord, You catch me when I'm fallingAnd You've told me who I amI am Yours
And so the answer is: Not because of who I am But because of what You've done. I am Yours.
I am Yours. That's who I am.
Jean Valjean, Javert, you, me, we are His and He has redeemed us. And no matter who we think we are, we will always be the love He has put in this world to be a light to others just as He was. We may be imperfect, we may be broken but He has claimed our soul and called us brother and sister. For him, we are a beautiful soul.