“Books, baking, Chicago, spirituality, social change.” That is my Instagram bio, 52 carefully curated characters, an attempt at telling the world something meaningful about myself.
If Paul had an Instagram bio, how would he use the 150 character maximum? Perhaps “Tent-maker. Letter-writer. Traveler from Tarsus.” While those things are true, is that really what Paul would say about himself?
If today’s first reading is any indication, the answer is, likely, no. In his 150-word greeting to the Romans, Paul doesn’t list his occupation, hometown, or interests. Instead, he introduces himself as a slave of Christ Jesus, an apostle, set apart for the Gospel. Paul’s sense of self is deeply rooted in his relationship with God.
Is our sense of self tied up in labels? What would it look like if we understood ourselves in the way Paul saw the Romans – in our belongingness to Christ, in our belovedness of God?
—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.