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The 1st reading on this 4th Sunday of Advent begins with this statement: “You, Bethlehem-Ephrathah too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). Bethlehem, an unknown town, a town too small to be counted among the towns of Judah, a town not to border with, is the town to produce a king. Remember when God sent Samuel to go and anoint one of the sons of Jesse, all his big and handsome sons came out and none was chosen. Chosen was the little shepherd-boy who was in the field with the sheep, whom everybody thought of as nobody, the unrecognized, the least thought of, and yet Samuel would have this to say: “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives” (1 Sam 16:11). When Gideon told the angel of the Lord, “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” 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) “GO IN THE STRENGTH YOU HAVE”

Have you ever asked, “What does God think of me? Who does God say that I am? Many a time, we tend to care more about what people think of us rather than what God thinks of us. We are not what others think we are; we are what God knows us to be. What God knows us to be is that we are wired with the ability and inner strength to do great things, to stand strong in the face of opposition, to call forth the David within us in the face of life-Goliaths, 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 run the risk of not becoming who God knows us to be and who God wants us to be. Focusing on what others think of you can box you into the corner of their judgment, only for you 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 your own abilities, and end up living a life that you 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 could never please God if we are disgusted with the person looking back at us in a mirror

God thinks good thoughts about us and so let us, as well, think good thoughts about ourselves. Never look down on yourself, no matter where you come from, who you are, what your profession is, or whatever imperfections you may have. There is always someone who is looking up to you: God your creator. We know that beliefs are very powerful because it has the power to create and the power to destroy. So believe in yourself, trust in your worth, be full of expectations, and stand with St. Paul when he says, “I am who I am by the grace of God.” Remember, also, that because you are who you are by the grace of God, the other person, also, is who they are by the grace of God and so we should never look down on anyone because only God sits up that high.

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