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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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Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows: Born in Italy into a large family and baptized Francis, he lost his mother when he was only four years old. He was educated by the Jesuits and, having been cured twice of serious illnesses, came to believe that God was calling him to the religious life. Young Francis wished to join the Jesuits but was turned down, probably because of his age, not yet 17. Following the death of a sister to cholera, his resolve to enter religious life became even stronger and he was accepted by the Passionists. Upon entering the novitiate he was given the name Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows.
<p>Ever popular and cheerful, Gabriel quickly was successful in his effort to be faithful in little things. His spirit of prayer, love for the poor, consideration of the feelings of others, exact observance of the Passionist Rule as well as his bodily penances—always subject to the will of his wise superiors— made a deep impression on everyone.
</p><p>His superiors had great expectations of Gabriel as he prepared for the priesthood, but after only four years of religious life symptoms of tuberculosis appeared. Ever obedient, he patiently bore the painful effects of the disease and the restrictions it required, seeking no special notice. He died peacefully on February 27, 1862, at age 24, having been an example to both young and old.
</p><p>Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows was canonized in 1920.</p> American Catholic Blog Life is not always happy, but our connections to others can create a simple and grace-filled quiet celebration of our own and others’ lives. These others are the presence of Christ in our lives.


 
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