29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
In one TV commercial, Andre Agassi, a very popular tennis player and considered to be a pop icon, said, “Image is everything.” Indeed, in the world of advertisement, image is everything. Advertisement is all about projecting an image, selling an image, and convincing people “to buy” that image. And once we buy an image – sad to say that happens very often – it is impressed on us, and eventually we reflect or project that image.
“Image is everything!” That is what our culture says. But as we look at that we come to the conclusion that we are all mirrors. Each one of us is a mirror, projecting either what is inside of us, or what is outside of us, which is the culture we buy into. Each of us reflects or projects something. The image we ‘get’ or ‘buy’ for ourselves is the image we reflect or project in our being. It is seen in the way we think and talk, behave and act. It is shown in the things we treasure, value and promote. It is exhibited in the products we buy, the clothes we wear, the places we go to, the things we use, the songs we sing. And, of course, it is reflected or projected on our social platforms. So, it is very important to ask ourselves: Whose image are we reflecting or projecting?
Well, we heard in today’s gospel reading the question of Jesus: “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” This is a profound question. This is a question that we must take personally. It is actually meant to invite or challenge us to a deeper reflection and realization. It should lead us to think of our true identity. This question about image is a matter of identity.
That is why it is very important to dwell on Jesus’ question. It will have a new meaning and significance if we see it as a question which is addressed to us personally. Somehow the Lord is asking us: “Whose image are you?” “Whose inscription is stamped on you?”
To understand this and to see its implication, we need to go back to the Book of Genesis – where it says: “God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” We were created in the image and likeness of God. The question is: Is this the image we are reflecting? Are we reflecting or projecting God’s image? Tayo ba ay buhay na larawan ng Diyos?
Dapat daw ang bawat isa sa atin ay maging isang ‘projector’. We should be ‘projecting’ the image of God so that people may see and experience God through us. But the problem is that often we are ‘projecting’ images other than God’s. Instead of reflecting the image of God, the image of Jesus, we project the images of the gods of the world – the gods of money, pleasure, gratification, entertainment. Instead of manifesting the gospel values of truth, justice and peace, we show the distorted values promoted by the world. Instead of revealing the kindness, goodness and love of God, we exhibit hatred, bitterness and unforgiveness. Instead of communicating the Good News of God, we bring so much bad news and negativities – that is why there is so much trolling, bashing and bullying going on, particularly on social media. Instead of expressing the blessings of God to the people we meet, we become a curse to them due to our wickedness. That is the problem.
But there is a solution to that problem: God’s help, God’s grace. Let us constantly ask the grace and help of God that we may not distort our being created in the image and likeness of God. Let us always pray that each of us may become a living reflection of God. Let us strive to become an image of God’s goodness and kindness. Let us manifest this by doing good even to those who do us bad and by being kind even to the unkind people. Let us strive to become an image of God’s generosity. Let us manifest this by sharing our blessings with others – giving without expecting anything in return. Let us strive to become an image of God’s mercy and forgiveness. Let us manifest this by being merciful to the morally weak and by forgiving those who sin against us seventy times seven times. Let us strive to become an image of God’s self-giving love. Let us manifest this by being selfless and other-oriented, by serving the poor, the deprived and the oppressed – that is, by dying to ourselves that others may live.
May we always live by the truth that we were created in the image and likeness of God. We need to constantly go back to the truth of who we are – whose image we are – and claim it for ourselves. Let us live our lives reflecting or projecting God’s image…manifesting God’s mercy, compassion, and love.