"By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective." 1 Cor 15:10
The writings of St. Paul are often uplifting because they are so human. Acknowledging his shortsightedness and arrogant treatment of Christians, Paul is grateful to tell the Corinthians that he is what he is, not because of his own power, but because God's grace has changed him. How true this is for all of us.
Jesus clearly wants us to be ourselves. He praises Nathaniel for being a man without guile, someone who lives a transparent life. In today's jargon, Nathaniel is who he is. He does not pretend to be someone else. Neither is he a chameleon, changing his personality to fit each new life situation or person.
Learning to know and accept ourselves as we are is hard work. It demands that we take time regularly to ask the Lord for the courage not to pretend to be more insightful or clever than we are, but to celebrate the gifts God gives us and share them with others.
This last aspect is the most difficult. The gifts we have, no matter how insignificant they might seem, are not for our own benefit, but for others. The gospel demands that we share who we are as Christians for the sake of God's reign, and to do this with joy and generosity.
Today, celebrate who you are before God.
What gifts of others have most benefited you in your faith life?