Fr. Kurian KollapallilAfter Peter’s great confession of faith Jesus takes his disciples by surprise, he announces that he “must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” After correcting Peter’s protest, Jesus announces the three conditions of Christian discipleship: “Deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.”

Discipleship is not about achieving success, greatness or status; those provide only a false sense of security and cannot give real life. It is only when we get rid of our false life that we discover our real life which is not centered in self but in God. The false and pretentious self we have created in our identity crisis remains as an obstruction to follow Jesus. The false self always asserts the self value, it can never suffer failure therefore it calls for self esteem. Always “I should be a winner; my needs should be met, if I suffer something it is just because of someone or something else.” This self-esteem consciousness makes one to be a blamer, self centered, and proud. Lack of charity, empathy and kindness make the self- esteemed person to be ostracized from the community to be a self centered person. This false self esteem never cares for the rights of others, therefore we must deny, reject this false concept of ourselves. Self esteem imposes the view that the whole world is mine; there is nothing that I cannot achieve in this world if I put my mind and strength to it. The goal of self esteem is self satisfaction and in order to meet those goals they disrespect the rights of others, create unnecessary tension and breaks- up relationships.

As opposed to building up self -esteem, following Jesus requires self-sacrifice and it is contrary to the worldly acclaimed values and principles. To experience the newness and fullness of life which only God can give we have to abandon our selves. Saul after his conversion denied his self and he said that he is a slave of Christ, (Romans 1:1). Paul did not think of possessing any independence and self ownership, instead he realized the greater truth of his belongingness and dependence on God. His false self he crucified with Christ and he had put on a new self (Galatians 2:20) St. Paul from his experience advises all Christians to put on a new self (Colossians 3:10). The self-esteem issue arises from the first fall where by Adam and Eve recognized their nakedness. They wanted to cover up their nakedness and put on a false self. When we are worried about, when we try to raise our self esteem barometer; lust, greed, false prestige, pride, dislike, disgust, contempt and arrogance mingled with anxiety and worry covers up our lives. When we are covered with these vices we do experience suffocation, restlessness, undue attachment and confusion. To free ourselves from this pretentious life we have to unmask our selves, and should realize the God given personality of each one of us. Our self- esteem derives from our image as the Children of God.

“God has placed you in this world to use his goodness for you, by giving you his grace and his glory. For this he has given you the understanding to know him, the memory to remember him, the will to love him, the imagination to represent to yourself his blessings, the eyes to see the wonders of his work, the tongue to praise him.” St. Francis de Sales