Nature vs Nurture.
I was sitting on the couch, imagining that I was having a conversation with Jesus. I was wondering much like St. Paul, why do I do what I don’t want to do? Why can’t I be the person I want to be? Can I change? How would I change?
Then I thought the question with Nature vs Nurture is how much of who you are is because that is your nature, it just is who you are. How much of who you are is attributable to genetics for example? Or to your soul? You just are who you are. And how much is attributable to how you were nurtured? Your parents? Your family? Friends, neighbors, the culture you grew up in? The encouragement, the discouragement you grew up with? The examples around you?
So let’s consider for a moment the life of Jesus Christ. In the Catholic tradition the Immaculate Conception refers not to the birth of Jesus, but the birth of Mary. She was immaculately conceived. Mary’s mother knew Mary was special. The angel came to Mary and told Mary she was special and her baby was beyond special, he was the Messiah. Wonder what Mary’s mother had to say about that? Since she had already had the experience, she could believe in what Mary told her and support her and hope with her. Joseph then has a dream, and remembers it when he wakes up. And he believes it. Then they go to Bethlehem for the birth and another set of extraordinary things happen that emphasize again that this child is special. Events that anyone would, and never have forgotten. How much was nature, that He was the Son of God, and how much nurture? That he had mother, grandmother, father, wise men, angels, shepherds that believed in him, supported him, looked for him.
Since His Father was His biggest supporter and is pretty good at arranging things and knows everyone, it would never happen this way, but let’s imagine that Jesus is born today in 2018, into a family that has no clue. The grandmother was crazy. She says there was no father, but come on having a baby with no daddy is no big deal these days so there is no reason to make up this fantasy. Everyone knows it can’t happen and it’s not like she is anyone special. So her daughter Mary isn’t anyone special either, and it’s not surprising she tries the same schtick as her mother. She says there was an angel, but no one believes her and after a while she doesn’t believe it either. Or at least she knows she isn’t supposed to believe and she doesn’t want people to think she is crazy like her mother. In today’s world, does she even get married? Let’s say she does. She gets married to Joseph. Joseph doesn’t remember his dream either. It’s okay if Mary isn’t a virgin, everybody fools around, and Mary just won’t admit it. And they name the child … well pick one, Jim, Bob, Ted, Alice? He knows he can do things that other kids can’t, and he knows they are impossible so he quits doing them so he can fit in.
You can continue this story, in a pessimistic mode and the question becomes does he ever become the Christ? I would doubt it. But it could never happen because his Dad would intervene and make sure His only begotten Son did have all the opportunity to became all he was meant to be; but ….
What does this tell us about ourselves? Who are you? How much nature? How much nurture? Could you have done, can you do things that others would say are impossible? Did Jesus say, “All that I have done you can do also, and even greater things, because I go to the Father”?
Can you walk on water, heal the sick, the lame walk, the blind see, raise the dead? Is the reason you can’t because of nature, because you aren’t a child of God, because you are not part of the inheritance, you are not an ambassador on earth? Or because of how you were nurtured? Because you have been told you can’t?
Good questions. So Jesus and I sat and talked about what was it that I really wanted. Who do I really want to be? Can I hold that conviction, that thought for more than just a day. Or tomorrow will I change my mind?
So He told me: “Daniel I can make you whoever you want to be. You just have to make up your mind who you want to be.”
I want to be wise, healthy, happy. I want to be a godly man.
“Then believe it and act like it!”