Story of belovedness….a difficult story to believe
As part of a recollection talk yesterday, I heard the phrase “earth as God’s beloved creation”. The use of the word beloved was the novelty there; God as creator is nothing new. It brought me to the significant use of the term beloved in the Bible in the baptism of Jesus, which I consider as a very significant moment too.
In the context of all the discussions of synod, we are slowly recovering the importance of the sacrament of baptism. All of us do become Christians by this sacrament. Does the baptism of Jesus have a very special significance too? I think so; its is the start of his mission. Now what happened in this baptism?
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved with whom I am well pleased.” ( Mt 3, 13–17)
Jesus is the beloved son of the father; he knew the same and he lived as one.
Through Jesus, we too are beloved child of God. This is my deepest identity, and it is not gained or lost by any virtuous or sinful deeds. Sadly, this is an identity many of us struggle to accept or appropriate. It becomes so difficult for us to believe that we are the beloved child of God despite our shortcomings or difficulties. So here comes struggle no. 1.
Just as I am the beloved child of God, everyone else is. This still more difficult to accept. We might be okay to accept that our beloved friend or a saint fit that category. But that category including all; yes, it’s complicated to accept. Here we have struggle no. 2.
And the creation is the beloved of the creator. God as creator is not something new, but creation as beloved is something really new. This is probably a surprise thought for many ( I have never thought of creation in this way before). Here we have struggle no. 3.
So three struggles? Probably it’s time to move from that aspect of three struggle to one struggle which has three connected dimensions. The struggle or the potential to see the self, other and the creation as the beloved is one struggle or opportunity, which is intimately related to the belovedness of Jesus as the beloved son of God.
Where to start the journey? I think we can imagine three belovedness like the three sides of a triangle, and the entire triangle is firmly anchored on the belovedness of Jesus. So I can start anywhere, the journey always has to go through the entire triangle. It can't be stuck at one point and forget the other two dimensions. Thus this journey is deeply spiritual one, which has a strong self, communitarian and earth dimension, and none is separated from the other. My struggle, struggle of neighbour and that of the creation are linked and all these have its roots in our failure not to sense the creator’s connection (connection is a lighter word, but belovedness) with all the three dimensions.
Nb: One of my favourite theologian Elizabeth Johnson has an article titled God’s beloved creation in the America magazine