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Bible Reflections View Comments

Loved From the Beginning of Time
By Diane M. Houdek
Source: Bringing Home the Word
Published: Sunday, January 13, 2013
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How often do novels, movies and plays revolve around the central character’s desire for recognition from a parent—a father’s love, a mother’s approval, a sign that one’s life is worthwhile? This desire is one of the first we’re aware of as infants, when our very survival depends on care from an adult. It’s one of the most difficult desires to satisfy as we grow into independent and yet connected persons.

The expectations of parents and children are always complex, often misunderstood. Those who never find this recognition spend their entire lives searching for it, often in all the wrong places. Those who work too hard to achieve it can find themselves denying their own talents to be something they think their parents want them to be. It’s a longing that can haunt many of us into adulthood and even old age.

Today’s feast is the first time in the Gospels that we hear God’s explicit acknowledgment of Jesus as his “beloved Son.” And it’s portrayed as a very public acknowledgment. This is what propels him forward into ministry, into living out his destiny as Son of God and Servant of God.

It’s important to note that this affirmation takes place at the beginning of Jesus’s public ministry. This is not some kind of “atta boy” reward for success or accomplishment. This is an affirmation of who he is, both in and of himself and in relationship to God the Father. God loves us more for who we are—his children—than for what we do. This is something that often gets turned upside down in our own human relationships.

Susan McGurgan writes, “God’s love was present at the beginning of the journey, long before the ending was revealed. God’s approval came from the start—before Jesus calmed the storm or set one captive free. Jesus was beloved, even before the water became wine and before that wine was offered up for us. God’s love surrounded Jesus, not because Jesus did something, or said something, or proved something, but because he was something.

“For most of us, this kind of love is hard to understand and even harder to accept. Somehow, in our brokenness, we’ve come to believe that God’s love must be earned, and that God’s blessings, like bonuses, are carefully calculated and rationed. We only feel loveable after we’ve walked on water or fed a crowd of hungry people. The kind of love poured out for Jesus—if it comes to us at all—should come only as a benediction, not as a beginning.”

Many of us know from the friendships we form as adults the kind of mutual love and respect that can comfort, challenge, inspire, and sustain us. We have people in our lives who love us without expectation, without demands, without conditions. Whether this comes from family or friends, it mirrors the love of the Trinity, the love in which Jesus was baptized, the love in which all of us are baptized. If we know this love ourselves, we can’t help but share it with others.

We all know people who define themselves and their importance by what they do. We may do this ourselves. We need to find ways to let them know that they are loved simply for themselves, simply because God created them. Because once we are rooted in this love, there’s almost nothing we can’t do, not because we seek blessing but because we are blessed.


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Catherine of Siena: The value Catherine makes central in her short life and which sounds clearly and consistently through her experience is complete surrender to Christ. What is most impressive about her is that she learns to view her surrender to her Lord as a goal to be reached through time. 
<p>She was the 23rd child of Jacopo and Lapa Benincasa and grew up as an intelligent, cheerful and intensely religious person. Catherine disappointed her mother by cutting off her hair as a protest against being overly encouraged to improve her appearance in order to attract a husband. Her father ordered her to be left in peace, and she was given a room of her own for prayer and meditation. </p><p>She entered the Dominican Third Order at 18 and spent the next three years in seclusion, prayer and austerity. Gradually a group of followers gathered around her—men and women, priests and religious. An active public apostolate grew out of her contemplative life. Her letters, mostly for spiritual instruction and encouragement of her followers, began to take more and more note of public affairs. Opposition and slander resulted from her mixing fearlessly with the world and speaking with the candor and authority of one completely committed to Christ. She was cleared of all charges at the Dominican General Chapter of 1374. </p><p>Her public influence reached great heights because of her evident holiness, her membership in the Dominican Third Order, and the deep impression she made on the pope. She worked tirelessly for the crusade against the Turks and for peace between Florence and the pope </p><p>In 1378, the Great Schism began, splitting the allegiance of Christendom between two, then three, popes and putting even saints on opposing sides. Catherine spent the last two years of her life in Rome, in prayer and pleading on behalf of the cause of Urban VI and the unity of the Church. She offered herself as a victim for the Church in its agony. She died surrounded by her "children" and was canonized in 1461. </p><p>Catherine ranks high among the mystics and spiritual writers of the Church. In 1939, she and Francis of Assisi were declared co-patrons of Italy. Paul VI named her and Teresa of Avila doctors of the Church in 1970. Her spiritual testament is found in <i>The Dialogue</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The gates of hell cannot withstand the power of heaven. Gates of sin melt in the presence of saving grace; gates of death fall in the presence of eternal life; gates of falsehood collapse in the presence of living truth; gates of violence are flattened in the presence of divine love. These are the tools with which Christ has equipped his Church.

Life's Great Questions

 
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