The Role of a Lifetime
In the Beatitudes, Jesus said that it was “blessed” to be “single-hearted.” (Mt 5:8). Often, this verse is translated as “pure of heart” or “clean of heart,” both of which lose punch in translation. To most people, to be “pure of heart” or “clean of heart” means to not have any thoughts that are tainted by impurity or hatred. True enough, however, the real meaning of being single-hearted is to be motivated with a laser focus – to devote one’s undivided attention to the one thing that matters. So how does one reach this single-heartedness? We do so by shifting vantage points: instead of approaching life with ourselves at the center, we approach life with Jesus at the center. Instead of thinking of God as having a role to play in the drama of our lives, we think of ourselves as having a role to play – indeed, the role of a lifetime – in the dramatic story that God has written, produced, and is directing.
We are being called to play the role of the person that God intends us to be – our self – someone made in the image and likeness of God. We cannot do this without our director who knows the role better than we do. Jesus – our director – works with us on every aspect of our performance. He points out when our performance is lacking but only because he knows what we are capable of and he affirms us when we nail it – when we assume the role that was written exclusively for us, or when we act so as to project, as Matthew Kelly refers to it, the best version of yourself, which is the role of a lifetime!
Immersed in Character
It is not uncommon on movie sets to find actors and actresses who have completely immersed themselves into their characters. In fact, it is said that actor Daniel Day-Lewis, while filming the movie Lincoln, remained in character off-camera throughout the entire project and even asked other British cast members to mask their accents so as not to throw him off. This method of acting – known as “method acting” – involves techniques that help the actor to enter into the thoughts and feelings of the character they are playing so that they can literally grow into the role. As we grow into the role that Jesus is calling us to aspire to – becoming the version of ourselves that God intends – we can apply some of these same strategies to our ever-deepening discipleship so that our performance in life is consistent, authentic, and inspiring. In the coming days, we’ll explore six techniques that actors focus on when entering into a role, along with some strategies (the six tasks of catechesis) for entering more deeply into the role of a lifetime that God has planned for each us.