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starsI’m thinking this morning of Shakespeare’s line: This above all: to thine own self be true, then it follows as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man. (Hamlet, act 1, scene 3) The gospel this morning was the trigger for this and some other thoughts about becoming and being my “true self” as opposed to living always in the land of “egoic consciousness” that can lead to all sorts of difficulties.

Most of us live in a time and a place where competition is fierce and social climbing is the order of the day. John the Baptist is my “wake up call” this morning about not getting caught in that particular web. His disciples are getting a little miffed because Jesus has appeared and seems to be stealing some of John’s thunder. They complain to him: “Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you testified, here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.” John, who is quite clear about his mission and his role in life responds: “No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said that I am not the Christ, but that I was sent before him. The one who has the bride is the bridegroom; the best man, who stands and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made complete. He must increase; I must decrease.” (JN 2:22-30) John isn’t saying that he, himself, is not important or that Jesus is the only important one. He is totally without envy and is totally happy to be doing what he’s called to do, being who he is meant to be as a gift of God to the world.

When we were young, my mother agreed that at least one of us (the girls) might hope to be Miss America. Eventually we came to see that perhaps that was just encouragement for accepting ourselves rather than wishing we were taller, slimmer or more talented in some way…and we both have done fine in what we have accomplished. There are days now when I would wish to be a speed reader or an athlete in the (senior) Olympics, but I’m happy that I can read and write and walk. Yes, these examples are written to evoke smiles, but the deeper truth of self acceptance underlies it all. May we thank God today for the unique gift that each of us is, without which the world would be a little poorer and the stars would shine a little less brightly. And let us be grateful for all of those stars, our companions, who light up the universe of our lives.