What would it take for you to accept that you are fully loved by God? For some of us, accepting this foundational understanding comes easy. For many of us, this is one of the hardest things we will ever work through—not just knowing we are loved by God, but accepting it in our bones.
So often I wish more was written about Jesus’ early years, his teenage years, and early adulthood years. Don’t you? I want a glimpse into his life to understand more who his friends were, what his family life was like, and what he enjoyed doing in his spare time. Much of Jesus’ hidden years, as they are often referred, can only be deciphered through studying the culture of the times.
The bulk of what we know about Jesus, though, comes through reading the scriptures. It is two key, transforming events of Jesus’ life that I want us to look at next. This week, we will look at Jesus’ baptism, and next week we will examine Jesus’ time in the desert. Each of these events teaches us something about coming to accept God’s love for us.
John the Baptist understood something about Jesus before many others did. He lets us in on this when Jesus approaches John to be baptized. John’s response is, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” (Mt 3:14). He reluctantly agrees to baptize Jesus, and when he does something profound happens. The sky opens and a dove descends over Jesus’ head, and a voice says, “You are my beloved son, in who I am well pleased.”
Note that God is not telling people around him that Jesus is his beloved son like he does at the Transfiguration (“This is my son, listen to him!”), but he is speaking directly to Jesus. “YOU are my beloved son.” God is affirming Jesus and Jesus’ mission.
Doesn’t this provide you some relief? That Jesus, God’s son, was told these words. Maybe, just maybe, Jesus needed the same reminder of God’s love for him as we need. He was fully human and grew into his call, just as we grow into our holiness. Those words spoken directly to Jesus strengthened his belief that he was fully loved by God- just as he was. Perhaps, Jesus needed that same reminder to accept who he was, God’s beloved son. Perhaps, Jesus needed a clear moment of consolation to help him accept who he was and what he was called to do.
What about us?
Wouldn’t it be amazing if the sky opened up and a dove descended over our heads and God spoke those words to us aloud?
My guess is that this hasn’t happened. However, I bet we can name events or moments in our lives that opened our capacity to accept God’s love for us. Moments where there was a brief glimpse that we were loved just as we are.
- Perhaps, a moment in prayer where a word or phrase from scripture spoke so directly to your heart you knew God loved you
- Or maybe a loved one served as a concrete answer to your prayer request, teaching you that God hears our prayers and has the power to answer them
- Maybe you felt God’s love for you when a friend came and sat with you in your mess, your suffering, your loss, or pain, reminding you of the way God cares about our hurts
- Or maybe the kindness of a stranger who popped into your day that wasn’t going so well.
As we live our lives, we experience hundreds of little moments that open our capacity to accept that we are loved by God and strengthen our belief that we are fully loved. When we’ve been wounded or hurt deeply, it may take a long time for us to trust the authentic experience of God’s love for us.
Prayer, prayer, prayer. I cannot reiterate the value of spending time with God enough. We can go to God’s Word, scriptures, and read them, pray with them and listen to God’s words of love and promise for us. Words such as…
- Psalm 139
- Isaiah 43
- Jeremiah 29:11– “I know well the plans I have in mind for you. Plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope.”
- Jn 14:18– “I will not leave you orphaned. I will come to you.”
And when we hear these words enough, we begin to accept them as truth. That we are loved, fully loved, just as we are. I wonder how often God whispered this reminder to Jesus in the stillness of Jesus’ own heart. I imagine it happened often, because this happens to us too.
Want to Go deeper?
- Try praying Lectio Divina with one of the scriptures listed above. For an explanation on how to pray scripture with Lectio Divina check out this video
- Pray with the Ignatian Adventure Week 3
- Read Not in Control