A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Philip found Nathanael and told him,
“We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the law,
and also the prophets, Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”
But Nathanael said to him,
“Can anything good come from Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him,
“Here is a true child of Israel.
There is no duplicity in him.”
Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Before Philip called you, I saw you under the fig tree.”
Nathanael answered him,
“Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“Do you believe
because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree?
You will see greater things than this.”
And he said to him, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
you will see heaven opened and the angels of God
ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
Good News Reflection: Don’t underestimate your value
You are the bride of Christ, because you have wedded yourself to his love and have committed your life to him. Today’s first reading is what God showed John in a vision about you. You gleam with the splendor of God. Your radiance is like that of a precious stone. This is how God sees you!
Why is it so hard for us to see ourselves this way? Most people don’t have a problem with pride, i.e., the prideful self-glorifying belief that “I am wonderful!” Most of us have a problem with low self-esteem, which triggers prideful, self-centered attempts to seem better than we are. And we don’t need to!
Sure, God knows our every short-coming and flaw and sin, but he also sees our radiant preciousness. If we could see that too, we wouldn’t be afraid to face our flaws. But instead of listening to God tell us who we are, we believe the negative, short-sighted, limited perceptions that others have held about us. Intellectually, we may have disagreed with their assessments, but deep inside, the child we once were still blindly seeks their approval.
If you were to make two lists, one naming your faults and the other naming your good points, the fault category would be longer, wouldn’t it? As a follower of Christ, it should be the opposite. You have Christ’s Spirit within you!
On the other hand, if listing your good points is far easier than naming your faults, do you see God as the author of your goodness? Do you recognize your calling to use these blessings for the sake of his kingdom?
How much time have you spent examining what is good in you? Let God teach you about how much he values you and how useful you are for his kingdom.
Like Nathanael (also called Bartholomew) said to Jesus in our Gospel reading today, “How do you know me?” God knows us exactly and intimately. We don’t. He sees everything that’s good in us, not just our tendency to sin. He knows the good we’re capable of doing if only we’d trust in our own goodness and use it for God’s glory — because this goodness comes directly from his Holy Spirit.
How much do we radiate the splendor of God?
Low self-esteem says that we are far from being who we’re supposed to be; it also says that we will never get there. Narcissism says we’re already there. Either way, God esteems us highly and longs to use our goodness to continue Christ’s mission in the world around us.
In fact, because we believe in the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus, God esteems us so highly that he calls us saints! This is why both the Old and New Testaments refer to the people of God as saints. Saints who haven’t died yet are people who are headed toward heaven and, as followers of Christ, are doing the work of Christ.
In our ordinary, everyday sainthood, we gleam with his splendor!
Lord, may our prejudices and fears not prevent us from advancing decisively toward the goal You have shown us. Amen.
© 2018 by Terry A. Modica