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Bible Reflections View Comments

Knowing Who We Are
By Kathleen M. Carroll
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, July 8, 2012
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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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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.

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