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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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Cyril of Alexandria: Saints are not born with halos around their heads. Cyril, recognized as a great teacher of the Church, began his career as archbishop of Alexandria, Egypt, with impulsive, often violent, actions. He pillaged and closed the churches of the Novatian heretics (who required those who denied the faith to be rebaptized), participated in the deposing of St. John Chrysostom (September 13) and confiscated Jewish property, expelling the Jews from Alexandria in retaliation for their attacks on Christians. 
<p>Cyril’s importance for theology and Church history lies in his championing the cause of orthodoxy against the heresy of Nestorius, who taught that in Christ there were two persons, one human and one divine.</p><p>The controversy centered around the two natures in Christ. Nestorius would not agree to the title “God-bearer” for Mary (January 1). He preferred “Christ-bearer,” saying there are two distinct persons in Christ (divine and human) joined only by a moral union. He said Mary was not the mother of God but only of the man Christ, whose humanity was only a temple of God. Nestorianism implied that the humanity of Christ was a mere disguise. </p><p>Presiding as the pope’s representative at the Council of Ephesus (431), Cyril condemned Nestorianism and proclaimed Mary truly the “God-bearer” (the mother of the one Person who is truly God and truly human). In the confusion that followed, Cyril was deposed and imprisoned for three months, after which he was welcomed back to Alexandria as a second Athanasius (the champion against Arianism). </p><p>Besides needing to soften some of his opposition to those who had sided with Nestorius, Cyril had difficulties with some of his own allies, who thought he had gone too far, sacrificing not only language but orthodoxy. Until his death, his policy of moderation kept his extreme partisans under control. On his deathbed, despite pressure, he refused to condemn the teacher of Nestorius.</p> American Catholic Blog Father, I have come to the understanding that Jesus asks very little from us, only that we accept him as our friend and love him and care for one another. How simple! And yet how difficult! Please give me grace not to disappoint him, who has given his all for me. I ask this in Jesus's name, Amen.

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