“You are my beloved . . . with you I am well pleased.”
I find, even among people of faith, a certain reticence to being told they are God’s beloved. We often sidestep the issue: “Well, God only loves Jesus like that, not me.”
Even now, as you’re reading this, you might be squirming a bit. It all feels a bit soft, a bit too lenient, a bit too intimate. After all, John the Baptist preached judgment, repentance, a little fire and brimstone—and the people were “filled with expectation” that he was the Christ. And then out of obscurity and into the water walked Jesus, meek and humble of heart, breaking not “a bruised reed”—and he was revealed to be God’s Beloved Incarnation.
And from this bountiful sense of belovedness, Jesus heals the sick, forgives sinners, eats with outcasts, and spreads the Good News to all he encounters. He shares this sense of being God’s beloved with us too, for we are baptized into Christ.
There’s a wonderful icon, often called the “Harrowing of Hell,” where the newly risen Christ breaks down the gates of hell and pulls Adam and Eve out of their graves. Below him, baptismal water flows, sanctifying the realm of the dead and despairing. Are Adam and Eve, dead for centuries, sunken in their sin, squirming at the sight of such love? No, they grab the hand of their beloved, who restores to them their own original belovedness. Today, in light of our own baptism, let’s take Christ’s hand, and follow their lead.
Michael J. Sanem, “In the Sight of Such Love,” from the January 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.
Reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 9, 2022: Readings