You Are My Beloved
..."the Only Begotten Son of God"...
The title ‘Son of God’ can seem very hefty. What does it mean to be called ‘Son of God’? It was a question at Jesus’ trial and only one of many titles given to him. The title ‘Son of God’ has had various historical and theological meanings. If you aren’t a theologian, what is the point of this particular title and how does it matter for most people who have uttered the Creed?
“And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.’ “ -Matthew 3:17
At Jesus baptism, we hear this unique and declarative statement of Jesus’ identity. We have so many titles for Jesus, but this one has an endearment to it - a beloved child. And it’s an experience that we can very closely identify with through our own baptism. Baptism offers images of newness, initiation, and cleansing. We don’t always do a great job of remembering and lifting up our belovedness.
I am making my way through the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius and the theme of belovedness comes up a lot and can be difficult to hold onto. As I have grappled through my own sense of being beloved, I have also reflected on my own wrong doings and brokenness. I have been sharply reminded that as much as I must account for the hurt I have caused, it is from my belovedness that I can love others most fully. It is from that place that I can hear God more clearly, love myself more honestly, and better cherish others as they are.
We have many opportunities to renew our baptismal promises. Do we renew and remember our gift of belovedness? Do we remember for ourselves and for others that amid our struggles and wrongdoings we are still precious in God’s eyes? Through Jesus’ sonship and much of what we get to share in through Jesus, we are also God’s beloved. It is not about perfection or right doing but about how our very existence is cherished in God’s sight. We do not earn our belovedness. And what a gift! One that we share with one another and with Jesus, and one that we can call to mind in the gospel reading and in our vow renewals.
I try to remember at those opportunities to recall the words as emphatically as possible: you are my beloved child. I repeat it: you. Are. My. Beloved. Child. I try to remember to whisper it to my children so it becomes indelible on their hearts. In my role as a godparent, I hold as a central responsibility to always remind my godchildren that above all they are beloved. The more we can reclaim this for ourselves and to share it with one another, the more we might live and love from our belovedness and not our brokenness.