At the Kairos weekend at St.Clair that begins this Thursday, after all the inmates have gathered and introductions are made, the weekend begins with a quiet time of reflection and meditation in the prison chapel.  I have been asked to give the first mediation to begin to open the inmates up to self -examination and prepare them for the talks and discussion to come.  I was asked to give a meditation on Knowing Yourself.  I have included my meditation here today as my post.  Set aside some quiet time to meditate on how well you know yourself?

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:43-51)

I want you to think for a moment about what’s going on with Nathaniel in this story.  As the story begins, we have Philip bringing Nathaniel to Jesus.  At that point, Jesus has seen Nathaniel before, but Nathaniel had not yet seen Jesus.

Where had Jesus seen Nathaniel before?  All we really know about that is that when Jesus saw him, Nathaniel was sitting under a fig tree, apparently by himself.  I like to think he was meditating… getting to know himself.

That seems terribly unimportant, doesn’t it?  But it was important enough for Jesus to have made a mental note of it.  There was something about the fact that Nathaniel was just sitting quietly there by himself that got Jesus’ attention. We know from many occurrences in Jesus’ later life that he considered time alone to be very important.

When was the last time you tried to get off to yourself just to think?

Especially to think about yourself, take some time now and slowly, quietly meditate:


about who you are?

about how you feel?

about what’s important to you?

and about who is important to you?

We need to think about what makes  you happy?

and what makes you sad?

About what things make you feel good about yourself?

And what things make you feel bad?

About what you like?

And about what you don’t like?

In short, you need to think about who are you?

Do you know yourself?

How well do you know yourself?

Well, when Nathaniel was seen by Jesus, he was just sitting and perhaps thinking.  And Jesus turned in to his thoughts and knew him. 

And when Jesus greeted Nathaniel, Nathaniel knew that Jesus knew him.  In that moment he thought of himself in a new way.  Under the fig tree he had looked at his life from the inside.  Now it was like he was seeing his life through the eyes of Jesus.  It was like he was another person looking at his life from the outside.

Have you ever tried that:  looking at your own life sort of from the outside? You should try it.

Try a game of imagination with me for just a little bit.  Imagine that you are sitting quietly under a tree somewhere just thinking about your life.  Now imagine that your mind can move somewhere outside of yourself and you stand off to the side looking at yourself, at your own life.

There is no one else around.  There is nothing there to distract you, so take your time.  Take a good close look at yourself…at your life.  What do you see?  Whom do you see?  What’s that person like when you look carefully? What mood can you read from the face… the eyes?  Can you look into the heart?  The soul?  What do you see there?

When we are honest with ourselves, we may be surprised to find that we have many more good qualities than bad.  When was the last time you have thought about your good qualities… the special gifts you have that no one else has?

We will also discover some qualities we wish we did not have.  Yet, it is important that we be honest with ourselves and accept ourselves as we are, including our weakness.  The first step toward overcoming our weaknesses is to admit that they exist.

It is very important that we know our condition if we hope to model our life after that of Jesus.  This means being humble.  The word humble comes from the Latin word humus, which means earth.  To be humble is to be like the earth, open and receptive.  The foundation upon which discipleship builds upon is honest self-knowledge which comes through humility and openness the Holy Spirit.

  Take time to now begin to know yourself.

Please share any reflections or insights you have gained from this meditation in the comments section below.