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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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Ignatius of Loyola: The founder of the Jesuits was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannon ball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence, Ignatius whiled away the time reading a life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began. Having seen the Mother of God in a vision, he made a pilgrimage to her shrine at Montserrat (near Barcelona). He remained for almost a year at nearby Manresa, sometimes with the Dominicans, sometimes in a pauper’s hospice, often in a cave in the hills praying. After a period of great peace of mind, he went through a harrowing trial of scruples. There was no comfort in anything—prayer, fasting, sacraments, penance. At length, his peace of mind returned. 
<p>It was during this year of conversion that Ignatius began to write down material that later became his greatest work, the <em>Spiritual Exercises</em>. </p><p>He finally achieved his purpose of going to the Holy Land, but could not remain, as he planned, because of the hostility of the Turks. He spent the next 11 years in various European universities, studying with great difficulty, beginning almost as a child. Like many others, his orthodoxy was questioned; Ignatius was twice jailed for brief periods. </p><p>In 1534, at the age of 43, he and six others (one of whom was St. Francis Xavier, December 2) vowed to live in poverty and chastity and to go to the Holy Land. If this became impossible, they vowed to offer themselves to the apostolic service of the pope. The latter became the only choice. Four years later Ignatius made the association permanent. The new Society of Jesus was approved by Paul III, and Ignatius was elected to serve as the first general. </p><p>When companions were sent on various missions by the pope, Ignatius remained in Rome, consolidating the new venture, but still finding time to found homes for orphans, catechumens and penitents. He founded the Roman College, intended to be the model of all other colleges of the Society. </p><p>Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, <i>ad majorem Dei gloriam</i>—“for the greater glory of God.” In his concept, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all professed members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls.</p> American Catholic Blog Jesus’s humanity and His biological need to be fed Himself gives power and personal force to His teaching that when we feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, we do it to Him.

 
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