“Do you think that I have come to destroy the law and the prophets? I have come not to destroy but to fulfill” (Mt5:17). These words of Jesus have been very important in the early Church’s understanding of who Christ called us to be. Very early on in the history of the Church
it became clear that Jesus came not to found a new religion, but rather, to bring to fulfilment the faith of the Old Testament.
This is why the New Testament writers spend so much time showing how the prophecies of the Old Testament were fulfilled in Jesus. He came not to destroy, but to fulfill. This principle also applies to our spiritual life, and here is how.
When Jesus comes into our lives he does not desire to destroy our past in order to create someone completely different. That is not how holiness works. Jesus desires to take who we are, including our personality traits, interests, even our quirkiness, and to purify these. Once we grow in holiness we should still be recognizable as the same person, just a better version of who we were.
When I was in the seminary I remember looking up to another seminarian who seemed very holy to me. He was quiet, introverted, reserved, and very obedient to authority. I wanted to be just like him. I tried to become quiet, and introverted, and very obedient, but all my efforts became extremely frustrating to me and to those around me. When I shared this with my spiritual director he corrected me by saying: “God does not want you to become someone else, but rather, God wants you to use your gifts for God’s glory”. He reminded me that Pope John Paul II was an extraverted, loud, talkative, and colourful individual, and he was seen as a saintly pope because he used all of these qualities for God and for others. This was a very important breakthrough for me, knowing that I can be myself and still grow in holiness, all I have to do is keep offering myself to God, even my silliness and quirkiness.
Jesus came not to destroy but to fulfill, to use the uniqueness of who you are and to elevate it to a whole new level. So, don’t be afraid to be yourself, with God and with those around you! Fr. Wojtek Kuzma