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On this fourth Sunday of Advent and as we celebrate Christmas, the gospel reading tells the Story of how our Blessed Mother, Mary, came to conceive Jesus; an unknown, nonimportant, unrecognized, slightest thought of, and a nobody village girl from an obscure village called Bethlehem; a village considered to be too small to be among the clans of Judah. Yet, from her was to be conceived and to give birth to the King of kings, Emmanuel, the Savior and Redeemer of the world.

It reminds me of the story of the anointing of David by the Prophet Samuel, the shepherd boy, who, despite all the majestic posturing of his siblings, was the one appointed by God to be king, and the party was not to start until he arrives. I also remember when Gideon told the angel of the Lord, “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family,” and the angel of the Lord responded, “[No], you are a mighty warrior. Go in the strength you have and save Israel” (Judges 6:1-11). Notice the phrase: “GO IN THE STRENGTH YOU HAVE.”

My friends, have you ever asked, “What does God think of me? Who does God say that I am? We often tend to care more about what people think of us than what God thinks of us. We are not what others think we are; we are what God knows us to be. God knows us to be wired with the ability and inner strength to do great things, stand strong in the face of opposition, and call forth the David within us in the face of life-Goliaths. There is a Gideon in us to go further than we thought we could and to live a life beyond what limits us. When we focus on what others think of us, we risk not becoming who God knows us to be and who God wants us to be. Focusing on what others think of us boxes us into the corner of their judgment, only for us to, consciously or unconsciously, act and behave in ways that line up with their prejudice, and like Gideon, begin to look down on ourselves, doubt our abilities, and end up living a life that we were not created to live. No wonder Scripture says, “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you” (Proverb 29:25). Using the opinions of others as the measuring stick of our worth is always a losing battle. We can never please God if we are disgusted with the person looking back at us in a mirror.

God thinks good thoughts about us, so let us also think good thoughts about ourselves. Never look down on yourself, no matter who you are, where you come from, your profession, or whatever imperfections you have. There is always someone looking up to you—God, your creator. We know that beliefs are compelling because they have the power to create and the power to destroy. So, we ought to believe in ourselves, trust in our worth, be full of expectations, and stand with St. Paul when he says, “I am who I am by the grace of God.” Because we are who we are by the grace of God, other persons also are who they are by God's grace. So, we should never look down on anyone because only God sits up that high to do so. Merry Christmas!

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