Can you recall the first time that someone said the following words to you: “I love you?” “You are beloved of someone and you matter”?
Henri Nouwen speaks of our growth as persons as a process of “becoming the beloved”. For him, all true love is rooted in the one who is LOVE. God who is the loving Father, Jesus the Beloved Son and the loving flow between them, the Holy Spirit.
As a man baptised by John at the Jordan, Jesus was profoundly affirmed on hearing the words of the Father from ‘heaven’. “You are my Son, the Beloved, my favour rests on you”. He was to devote his entire life in reminding each of us that we too are a ‘Beloved Daughter or Son of the Father”. Many hundreds of times we will have heard the same affirming words from those who love us in our family and others who care deeply for us. This loving is expressed in deeds more than words and is life-giving.
The consuming passion of Jesus was to devote his life to reaching out in love and friendship so that he could draw us into the circle of love he shares with his Father. He said “I call you friends, I have made known to you everything. I have learnt from my Father”.
This is my abiding passion too! I want to share my experience of being a Beloved of God with every child and adult, the experience of being named and claimed as a beloved Daughter or Son of God in whom God takes delight.
At the Jordan where he was baptised Christ woke up to his core identity as unconditionally beloved and uniquely beautiful and precious in the embrace of the Father. That initial awakening begins for us at our baptism. Our parents, grandparents and other people of faith nurture and deepen that faith in us, every time we do something beautiful for God and for others, every time we give thanks for life’s blessing and every time we gather for Mass.
Slowly we let go of ‘false ego identities’, of being the best footballer, the prettiest, most intelligent, successful or whatever. We each have a responsibility to nurture in others their core identity as a Son or Daughter of the Father. This is what Jesus does today on Mount Tabor in the company of his disciples Peter, James and John. Fr. Tom