What does it mean to be someone’s Beloved? Today as the Baptism of the Lord in the Church calendar, a voice from heaven recognizes the man, Jesus, who is standing in the Jordan River, having been baptized by John, as the Beloved Son. The voice is well-pleased with the Beloved in Matthew’s version. The First Reading has the Lord saying Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights. Ah, these are words that every child hopes to hear from their parents at least once in life. Why would God and Jesus not model this love and admiration?
To be Beloved is a gift, a healing balm, a joy beyond measure. We all need to know this freedom–the freedom of someone embracing us totally, of delighting in us without judgment, of being pleased as can be at who we are. The other day I was over at my goddaughter’s place and I watched this fine young woman interact with us almost as an adult. She was funny and engaging. Something about her freedom to be who she was caught my attention. This girl knows she is loved…and she certainly has my heart. She has dreams and compassion. She works hard. She is a loyal sibling and a good daughter. She maintains strong friendships. I think she has a sense of what it means to be Beloved.
Many of us do not get there until late in life. We second guess ourselves. We do not feel lovable. We let go of dreams. We live small when really we are called to be light for the world. Jesus nor John played small when John baptized him. John was fulfilling the role destined by God. Each of us have a role to play if the will of God is to be done here on earth. Can we embrace the part we are asked to take?
I have known that God loves me from a very young age, when listening to Scripture readings in the public school I attended set my heart on fire in Grade 1. My relationship with Jesus is intimate. In Ignatian contemplations and colloquies, I commonly find myself sitting with Jesus, my head on his shoulder, in silence, just being together. I feel such great peace there. Other times, we may be walking along and we laugh out loud. He knows me so well and can always make me laugh. I have an earthly friend who reminds me of Jesus in this regard. He always brings me back to reality with a healthy dose of calling me on my stuff in a way that helps me to realize how I can be way too serious at times. Still other times of great sadness, Christ will put an arm around me, draw me close and let me weep. Jesus has always made me feel I am beloved.
For thirty years, I have been held by a church community that I have loved and that has loved me. This great cloud of witnesses has formed me in ways for which I am ever grateful. We have been through much together — celebrations of joy and heartache. The seniors, especially have called forth my gifts of service and modeled for me how to live out my faith. I feel such love from so many of them. They have supported many of my endeavours and have said hundreds of prayers for me over these three decades. There have been surrogate mothers and affirming father-figures. My faith would not be what it is today had I been at another parish. My soul delights in them, and those who have passed to the other side of the thin veil.
As we re-enter Ordinary Time, may we know how the Beloved loves us. This Babe who came down from heaven to be one of us for three decades longs for us to know how deeply, wildly, completely adored we are just as we are–creatures in need of being loved. I pray that we may all come to experience this.
When was a time you felt Beloved?
Who in your life has shown you unconditional love?
Beloved, may I know that you take great delight in me. I pray that this will propel me out in to the world to share that joy and love with those around me, who are also in need of your mercy. Amen.