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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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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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