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Bible Reflections View Comments

Knowing Who We Are
By Kathleen M. Carroll
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 08, 2012
Click here to email! Email | Click here to print! Print | Size: A A |  
 
Though often attributed to Nelson Mandela, it is in Marianne Williamson’s 1992 book, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, that we find this observation: “We ask ourselves: Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”
Many of us are plagued with the sort of self-doubts evident in these words. They have a familiar ring. We’ve all asked ourselves the same question many times.

Williamson, though, follows this with words we’d never dare to tell ourselves: “Who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine…. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.”

We can be grateful that Jesus was so completely aware of his role as a child of God that the opinions of others could not persuade him to settle for less of an identity. Yes, he was from
Nazareth, where his parents were known. Yes, he had worked as a carpenter. Yes, his relatives were known to all the people in town. But Jesus was much more than that. He had a wisdom that people needed to hear. He could heal. He could work miracles. He knew that God was his father and he took his filial obligations seriously. He knew that God was a God
of love, so he set about loving people. He knew that God was a God of wisdom and  righteousness, so he learned the Scriptures thoroughly and preached their message. He knew that God could do anything and, clearly, it ran in the family.

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus was distressed by the lack of faith he encountered in his hometown. The people’s lack of faith didn’t change who Jesus was, but it did limit what he
could do for them. Certainly, that could distress someone with the compassion of Christ. But the lack of faith Jesus encountered also limited what those people could become. If they
could not see the good in Jesus, how could they begin to see good in themselves?

We, too, are far more than our family background, the town we grew up in, our friends and our occupation. We, too, are children of the same God. It does not matter if we lack those qualities the world admires—Paul encourages us to boast of our weaknesses. Moses had a stutter, David was a shepherd boy and Joseph lacked the charm to talk his own brothers out of selling him into slavery, but their faith changed the history of their people and the world.

It takes faith for us to see ourselves as God sees us—to focus on the potential within us for great good, rather than the mistakes and shortcomings of our past. But we must embrace that faith, for our own good and the good of those who depend on us. We must believe in what Matthew Kelly calls “the best version of ourselves,” and strive to live up to that version each day.

Christ calls us, as members of his body, to continue his mission in the world—to love all, to teach those we can, to heal with words of hope, to share the goodness God has granted
us. What miracle will you perform today?


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Bernadette Soubirous: Bernadette Soubirous was born in 1844, the first child of an extremely poor miller in the town of Lourdes in southern France. The family was living in the basement of a dilapidated building when on February 11,1858, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette in a cave above the banks of the Gave River near Lourdes. Bernadette, 14 years old, was known as a virtuous girl though a dull student who had not even made her first Holy Communion. In poor health, she had suffered from asthma from an early age. 
<p>There were 18 appearances in all, the final one occurring on the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, July 16. Although Bernadette's initial reports provoked skepticism, her daily visions of "the Lady" brought great crowds of the curious. The Lady, Bernadette explained, had instructed her to have a chapel built on the spot of the visions. There the people were to come to wash in and drink of the water of the spring that had welled up from the very spot where Bernadette had been instructed to dig. </p><p>According to Bernadette, the Lady of her visions was a girl of 16 or 17 who wore a white robe with a blue sash. Yellow roses covered her feet, a large rosary was on her right arm. In the vision on March 25 she told Bernadette, "I am the Immaculate Conception." It was only when the words were explained to her that Bernadette came to realize who the Lady was. </p><p>Few visions have ever undergone the scrutiny that these appearances of the Immaculate Virgin were subject to. Lourdes became one of the most popular Marian shrines in the world, attracting millions of visitors. Miracles were reported at the shrine and in the waters of the spring. After thorough investigation Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions in 1862. </p><p>During her life Bernadette suffered much. She was hounded by the public as well as by civic officials until at last she was protected in a convent of nuns. Five years later she petitioned to enter the Sisters of Notre Dame. After a period of illness she was able to make the journey from Lourdes and enter the novitiate. But within four months of her arrival she was given the last rites of the Church and allowed to profess her vows. She recovered enough to become infirmarian and then sacristan, but chronic health problems persisted. She died on April 16, 1879, at the age of 35. </p><p>She was canonized in 1933.</p> American Catholic Blog In humility, a woman ultimately forgets 
herself; forgets both her shortcomings and accomplishments equally and 
strives to remain empty of self to make room for Jesus, just as Mary 
did.

 
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