December 31, 2006


All who heard him were astounded at his understanding & his answers. - Luke 2: 47

The words of Nelson Mandela in his 1994 inaugural speech:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented & fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.

It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. &, as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated fm our own fear our presence automatically liberates others.

How true! Deep down inside, we are afraid, not of our inadequacy, but of our glory; not of our darkness, but of our light. So we play it small to escape our glory that may make others feel insecure, & we embrace what an insecure world tells us to embrace. We wear the same designer clothes, strive for soap opera star bodies, embrace our careers rather than our children, get average grades in school so as not to be known as a ‘geek’, value the same commercially induced values – & in the end, we lose our identity. Fearful of their own light, Christians too often become part of the attractive darkness.

Glory, of course, cannot be completely suppressed – after all we are children of God no matter how much we try to cover it up. So we find ourselves watching Touched by an Angel on TV, & even going to church on Christmas. But that is not nearly enough. How dare we be civil in a vulgar world, chaste in a sex-saturated media, sober in a besotted place, honest in a bottom-line economy, selfless & compassionate while living in a culture of greed? How dare we honor our marriage vows in a divorce culture, or embrace a lifestyle that says ‘I have enough’ in a consumer culture?

How dare we manifest the glory of God within us when the world tells us that we really have no time for godly ways? Who do we think we are trying to play it big when everyone else is playing it small? We’re no kid in the temple letting his light shine through. If we were to admit that we are children of God, would we – could we – live the way we do now?

In the musical Man of La Mancha, Aldonza is a worthless slut Don Quixote had idealized by calling her Dulcinea, ‘sweet one’, much to the howling laughter of the townsfolk. But Don Quixote had loved her in a way unlike anything she had ever experienced. When he dies, she sings the haunting song, “The Impossible Dream.” As the last note dies away, someone shouts to her, “Aldonza!” But she proudly pulls herself up & says, “My name is Dulcinea.”

Today’s Gospel reminds us that, although our culture calls us Aldonza & wants us to live as such, God calls us Dulcinea – my beloved – & asks us to live accordingly. Perhaps our New Year’s resolution should be this: to reclaim our dignity, recognize our fears, be about our Father’s business by living as who we are, children of God put here on earth to liberate others from rejection, separation, loneliness & hurt. AMEN!