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Beloved Children of God
The following passages are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “Life of the Beloved” published in 1992:
Beloved (pg 25-33)
Ever since you asked me to write for you and your friends about the spiritual life, I have been wondering if there might be one word I would most want you to remember when you finished reading all I wish to say. Over the past year, that special word has gradually emerged from the depths of my own heart. It is the word “Beloved,” and I am convinced that it has been given to me for the sake of you and your friends. Being a Christian, I first learned this word from the story of the baptism of Jesus of Nazareth. “No sooner had Jesus come out of the water than He saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on Him. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are My Son, the Beloved; My favour rest on You.’” For many years I had read these words and even reflected upon them in sermons and lectures, but it is only since our talks in New York that they have taken on a meaning far beyond the boundaries of my own tradition. Our many conversations led me to the inner conviction that the words, “You are my Beloved” revealed the most intimate truth about all human beings, whether they belong to any particular tradition or not.
Fred, all I want to say to you is “You are the Beloved,” and all I hope is that you can hear these words as spoken to you with all the tenderness and force that love can hold. My only desire is to make these words reverberate in every corner of your being---“You are the Beloved.”
The greatest gift my friendship can give to you is the gift of your Belovedness. I can give that gift only insofar as I have claimed it for myself. Isn’t that what friendship is all about: giving each other the gift of our Belovedness?
Yes, there is that voice, the voice that speaks from above and from within and that whispers softly or declares loudly: “You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests.” It certainly is not easy to hear that voice in a world filled with voices that shout: “You are no good, you are ugly; you are worthless; you are despicable, you are nobody---unless you can demonstrate the opposite.”
These negative voices are so loud and so persistent that it is easy to believe them. That’s the great trap. It is the trap of self-rejection. Over the years, I have come to realise that the greatest trap in our life is not success, popularity or power, but self-rejection. Success, popularity and power can, indeed, present a great temptation, but their seductive quality often comes from the way they are part of the much larger temptation to self-rejection. When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success, popularity and power are easily perceived as attractive solutions. The real trap, however, is self-rejection. I am constantly surprised at how quickly I give in to this temptation. As soon as someone accuses me or criticises me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone or abandoned, I find myself thinking: “Well, that proves once again that I am a nobody.” Instead of taking a critical look at the circumstances or trying to understand my own and others’ limitations, I tend to blame myself---not just for what I did, but for who I am. My dark side says: “I am no good. . . .I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected and abandoned.”
Maybe you think that you are more tempted by arrogance than by self-rejection. But isn’t arrogance, in fact, the other side of self-rejection? Isn’t arrogance putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself? Isn’t arrogance, in the final analysis, just another way of dealing with the feelings of worthlessness? Both self-rejection and arrogance pull us out of the common reality of existence and make a gentle community of people extremely difficult, if not impossible, to attain. I know too well that beneath my arrogance there lies much self-doubt, just as there is a great amount of pride hidden in my self-rejection. Whether I am inflated or deflated, I lose touch with my truth and distort my vision of reality.
I hope you can somehow identify in yourself the temptation to self-rejection, whether it manifests itself in arrogance or in low self-esteem. Not seldom, self-rejection is simply seen as the neurotic expression of an insecure person. But neurosis is often the psychic manifestation of a much deeper human darkness: the darkness of not feeling truly welcome in human existence. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” Being the Beloved expresses the core truth of our existence.
I am putting this so directly and so simply because, though the experience of being the Beloved has never been completely absent from my life, I never claimed it as my core truth. I kept running around it in large or small circles, always looking for someone or something able to convince me of my Belovedness. It was as if I kept refusing to hear the voice that speaks from the very depth of my being and says: “You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests.” That voice has always been there, but it seems that I was much more eager to listen to other, louder voices saying: “Prove that you are worth something; do something relevant, spectacular or powerful, and then you will earn the love you so desire.” Meanwhile, the soft, gentle voice that speaks in the silence and solitude of my heart remained unheard or, at least, unconvincing.
That soft, gentle voice that calls me the Beloved has come to me in countless ways. My parents, friends, teachers, students and the many strangers who crossed my path have all sounded that voice in different tones. I have been cared for by many people with much tenderness and gentleness. I have been taught and instructed with much patience and perseverance. I have been encouraged to keep going when I was ready to give up and was stimulated to try again when I failed. I have been rewarded and praised for success. . . but, somehow, all of these signs of love were not sufficient to convince me that I was the Beloved. Beneath all my seemingly strong self-confidence there remained the question: “If all those who shower me with so much attention could see me and know me in my innermost self, would they still love me?” That agonising question, rooted in my inner shadow, kept persecuting me and made me run away from the very place where that quiet voice calling me the Beloved could be heard.
I think you understand what I am talking about. Aren’t you, like me, hoping that some person, thing or event will come along to give you that final feeling of inner well being you desire? Don’t you often hope: “May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country, or relationship fulfil my deepest desire.” But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run. This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burnout. This is the way to spiritual death.
Well, you and I don’t have to kill ourselves. We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, “You are my Beloved.”
Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: “I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. I have moulded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse. . . yes, even your child. . .wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.”
Every time you listen with great attentiveness to the voice that calls you the Beloved, you will discover within yourself a desire to hear that voice longer and more deeply. It is like discovering a well in the desert. Once you have touched wet ground, you want to dig deeper.
I have been doing a lot of digging lately and I know that I am just beginning to see a little stream bubbling up through the dry sand. I have to keep digging because that little stream comes from a huge reservoir beneath the desert of my life. The word “digging” might not be the best word, since it suggests hard and painful work that finally leads me to the place where I can quench my thirst. Perhaps all we need to do is remove the dry sand that covers the well. There may be quite a pile of dry sand in our lives, but the One who so desires to quench our thirst will help us to remove it. All we really need is a great desire to find the water and drink from it.
You lived fewer years than I. You may still want to look around a little more and a little longer so as to become convinced that the spiritual life is worth all your energy. But I do feel a certain impatience toward you because I don’t want you to waste too much of your time! I have fewer years ahead of me than behind me. For you, I hope the opposite is true. Therefore, I want to assure you already, now, that you do not have to get caught in searches that head only to entanglement. Neither do you have to become the victim of a manipulative world or get trapped in any kind of addiction. You can choose to reach out now to true inner freedom and find it ever more fully.
So, if you are interested in starting on the journey of the Beloved, I have a lot more to say to you, because the journey of the spiritual life calls not only for determination, but also for a certain knowledge of the terrain to be crossed. I don’t want you to have to wander about in the desert for forty years as did our spiritual forbearers. I don’t even want you to dwell there as long as I did. You are very dear to me, a friend whom I truly love. Although it remains true that everyone has to learn for himself or herself, I still believe that we can prevent those we love from making the same mistakes we did. In the terrain of the spiritual life, we need guides.
Father Henri Nouwen was hit by the outside rear view mirror of a passing van, while hitchhiking to the Corner House at Daybreak, on a dark winter morning. He had to be operated to stop the internal bleeding and to take out his spleen. He survived the surgery. The following passages are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “Beyond the Mirror” published in 1990.
1.God’s Beloved Child (pg 68-70)
My experience of God’s love during my hours near death has given me a renewed knowledge of not belonging to the world---to the dark powers of our society. This knowledge has entered more deeply into my heart and has led me to a fuller acceptance of my identity. I am a child of God, a brother of Jesus. I am held safe in the intimacy of the divine love.
When Jesus was baptised in the Jordan, He heard a voice from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) these words revealed the true identity of Jesus as the beloved. Jesus truly heard that voice, and all of His thoughts, words, and actions came forth from His deep knowledge that He was infinitely loved by God. Jesus lived His life from that inner place of love. Although human rejections, jealousies, resentments, and hatred did hurt Him deeply, He remained always anchored in the love of the Father. At the end of His life, He said to His disciples, “Listen: the time will come---indeed has come already---when you are going to be scattered, each going his own way and leaving Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.” (John 16:32)
I know now that the words spoken to Jesus when He was baptised are words spoken also to me and to all who are brothers and sisters of Jesus. My tendencies toward self-rejection and self-depreciation make it hard to hear these words truly and let them descend into the center of my heart. But once I have received these words fully, I am set free from my compulsion to prove myself to the world and can live in it without belong to it. Once I have accepted the truth that I am God’s beloved child, unconditionally loved, I can be sent into the world to speak and to act as Jesus did.
The great spiritual task facing me is to so fully trust that I belong to God that I can be free in the world---free to speak even when my words are not received; free to act even when my actions are criticized, ridicule, or considered useless; free also to receive love from people and to be grateful for all the signs of God’s presence in the world. I am convinced that I will truly be able to love the world when I fully believe that I am loved far beyond its boundaries.
2.Beloved (pg 85-88)
One of the most life-giving experiences of my last weeks in the hospital was the visits of my father, my sisters, friends, and members of my community. They had time to spare. They had nothing more important to do. They could sit close to my bed and just be there. Especially the most handicapped were very present to me. Adam, Tracy, and Hsi-Fu came in their wheelchairs. They didn’t say anything, but they were there, just reminding me that I am loved as much as they are. It seemed that they wanted to tell me that my experience in the portal of death was real and could be trusted, and by their silent presence they said to me that they might be able to keep me faithful to it. When Hsi-Fu visited me, he jumped up and down in his wheelchair, and when I hugged him, he covered my face with his kisses. He made the circle full. I wanted to come to him, but in the end it was he who came to me, as if to say, “Don’t worry, I got my bath, but stay close to me so that you won’t lose what you learned on your bed.”
I have lost much of the peace and freedom that was given to me in the hospital. I regret it; I even grieve over it. Once again there are many people, many projects, many pulls. Never enough time and space to do it all and feel totally satisfied. I am no longer as centered and focused as I was during my illness. I wish I were. I yearn for it. It is a yearning I share with many busy people.
Because they have nothing to prove, nothing to accomplish, Hsi-Fu and all the weak and broken people of our world are given to me to call me back, again and again, to the place of truth that I have come to know. They have no success to achieve, no career to protect, no name to uphold. They are always “in intensive care,” always dependent, always in the portal of death. They can bring me in touch and hold me close to that place in me where I am like them: weak, broken, and where God calls me blessed and says to me, “Don’t be afraid. You are My beloved child, on whom My favour rests.”
I keep being reminded of Jesus words: “Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3) I realise that my accident made me, at least for a while, like a little child and gave me a short taste of the Kingdom. Now all of the temptations to leave that childhood are here again, and I am not surprised that some of my friends feel that I had more to give when I was sick than after my recuperation. However, I can no longer sit and wait for another accident to point me toward the Kingdom once again. I simply have to open my eyes to the world in which I have been placed and see there the people who can help me over and over again to become a child. I know for sure that my accident was nothing but a simple reminder of who I am and of what I am called to become.
The following passages on belovedness are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “Here and Now” published in 1994.
Living in God’s Time (pg 137-139)
Each time we claim for ourselves the truth of our belovedness, our lives are widened and deepened. As the beloved our lives stretch out far beyond the boundaries of our birth and death. We do not simply become the beloved at our birth and cease being the beloved at our death. Our belovedness is eternal. God says to us: “I will love you with an everlasting love.” This love was there before our fathers and mothers loved us, and it will be there long after our friends have cared for us. It is a divine love, an everlasting love, an eternal love.
Precisely because our true identity is rooted in this unconditional, unlimited, everlasting love, we can escape being victimised by our “clock-time.” Clock-time is the time we have in this world. That time can be measured in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. Our clock-time, chronos in Greek, can become an obsession, especially when all that we are is connected with the clock that keeps ticking whether we are awake or asleep.
I have always been very conscious of my clock-time. Often I asked myself: “Can I still double my years?” When I was thirty I said: “I can easily live another thirty!” When I was forty, I mused, “Maybe I am only halfway!” Today I can no longer say that, and my question has become: “How am I going to use the few years left to me?” All these concerns about our clock-time come from below. They are based on the presupposition that our chronology is all we have to live. But looked from above, from God’s perspective, our clock-time is embedded in the timeless embrace of God. Looked upon from above, our years on earth are not simply chronos but kairos---another Greek word for time---which is the opportunity to claim for ourselves the love that God offers us from eternity to eternity. And so our short lives, instead of being that limited amount of years to which we must anxiously cling, become that saving opportunity to respond with all of our hearts, souls, and minds to God’s love and so become true partners in the divine communion.
The passages below are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “The Inner Voice of Love,” published in 1996. The book was his secret journal, written between December 1987 and June 1988, during the most difficult period of his life. Everything came crashing down---his self-esteem, his energy to live and work, his sense of being loved, his hope for healing, his trust in God . . . everything. He was helped by two guides, who did not leave him alone and kept gently moving him from one day to the next, holding on to him as parents held a wounded child. Nearly every day, usually immediately after meeting with his guides, he wrote a “spiritual imperative”---a command to himself that had emerged from their session. The imperatives were directed to his own heart. They were not meant for anyone but himself. But 8 years later he was persuaded to release them for publication.
1.Accept Your Identity as a Child of God
Your true identity is a child of God. This is the identity you have to accept. Once you have claimed it and settled in it, you can live in a world that gives you much joy as well as pain. You can receive the praise as well as the blame that comes to you as an opportunity for strengthening your basic identity, because the identity that makes you free is anchored beyond all human praise and blame. You belong to God, and it is as a child of God that you are sent into the world.
You need spiritual guidance; you need people who can keep you anchored in your true identity. The temptation to disconnect from that deep place in you where God dwells and to let yourself be drowned in the praise or blame of the world always remains.
Since that deep place in you where your identity as a child of God is rooted has been unknown to you for a long time, those who were able to touch you there had a sudden and often overwhelming power over you. They became part of your identity. You could no longer live without them. But they could not fulfil that divine role, so they left you, and you felt abandoned. But it is precisely that experience of abandonment that called you back to your true identity as a child of God.
Only God can fully dwell in that deepest place in you and give you a sense of safety. But the danger remains that you will let other people run away with your sacred center, thus throwing you into anguish.
It might take a great deal of time and discipline to fully reconnect your deep, hidden self and your public self, which is known, loved, and accepted but also criticised by the world. Gradually, though, you will begin feeling more connected and become more fully who you truly are---a child of God. There lies your real freedom. (pg 70)
2.Protect Your Innocence
Being a child of God does not make you free from temptations. You might have moments when you feel so blessed, so in God, so loved that you forget you are still in a world of powers and principalities. But your innocence as a child of God needs to be protected. Otherwise, you will easily be pulled out of your true self and experience the devastating force of the darkness surrounding you.
This being pulled out may come as a great surprise. Before you are even fully aware of it or have had a chance to consent to it, you may find yourself overwhelmed by lust, anger, resentment, or greed. A picture, a person, or a gesture may trigger these strong, destructive emotions and seduce your innocent self.
As a child of God you need to be prudent. You cannot simply walk around in this world as if nothing and no one can harm you. You remain extremely vulnerable. The same passions that make you love God may be used by the powers of evil.
The children of God need to support, protect, and hold one another close to God’s heart. You belong to a minority in a large, hostile world. As you become more aware of your true identity as a child of God, you will also see more clearly the many forces that try to convince you that all things spiritual are false substitutes for the real things of life.
When you are temporarily pulled out of your true self, you can have the sudden feeling that God is just a word, prayer is fantasy, sanctity is a dream, and the eternal life is an escape from true living. Jesus was tempted in this way, and so are we.
Do not trust your thoughts and feelings when you are pulled out of yourself. Return quickly to you true place, and pay no attention to what tricked you. Gradually you will come to be more prepared for these temptations, and they will have less and less power over you. Protect your innocence by holding on to the truth: you are a child of God and deeply loved. (pg 76)
3. Know Yourself as Truly Loved
Some people have lived such oppressed lives that their true selves have become completely unreachable to them. They need help to break through their oppression. Their power to free themselves has to be at least as strong as the power that keeps them down. Sometimes they need permission to explode: to let out their deepest emotion and to shake off the alien forces. Screaming, yelling, crying, and even physical fighting might be expression of liberation.
You, however, do not seem to need such explosion. For you, the problem is not to get something out of your system but to take something in that deepens and strengthens your sense of your goodness and allows your anguish to be embraced by love.
You will discover that the more love you can take in and hold on to, the less fearful you will become. You will speak more simply, more directly, and more freely about what is important to you, without fear of other people’s reactions. You will also use fewer words, trusting that you communicate your true self even when you do not speak much.
The disciples of Jesus had a real sense of His loving presence as they went out to preach. They had seen Him, eaten with Him, and spoken with Him after His resurrection. They had come to live a deep connectedness with Him and drew from that connectedness the strength to speak out with simplicity and directness, unafraid of being misunderstood or rejected.
The more you come to know yourself---spirit, mind, and body---as truly loved, the freer you will be to proclaim the good news. That is the freedom of the children of God. (pg 74)
4. Let Jesus Transform You
You are looking for ways to meet Jesus. You are trying to meet Him not only in your mind but also in your body. You seek His affection, and you know that this affection involves His body as well as yours. He became flesh for you so that you could encounter Him in the flesh and receive His love in the flesh.
But something remains in you that prevents this meeting. There is still a lot of shame and guilt stuck away in your body, blocking the presence of Jesus. You do not fully feel at home in your body; you look down on it as if it were not a good enough, beautiful enough, or pure enough place to meet Jesus.
When you look attentively at your life, you will see how filled it has been with fear, especially fears of people in authority: your parents, your teachers, your bishops, your spiritual guides, even your friends. You never felt equal to them and kept putting yourself down in front of them. For most of your life, you have felt as if you needed their permission to be yourself.
Think about Jesus. He was totally free before the authorities of His time. He told people not to be guided by the behaviour of the scribes and Pharisees. Jesus came among us as an equal, a brother. He broke down the pyramidal structures of relationship between God and people as well as those among people and offered a new model: the circle, where God lives in full solidarity with the people and the people with one another.
You will not be able to meet Jesus in your body while your body remains full of doubts and fears. Jesus came to free you from these bonds and to create in you a space where you can be with Him. He wants you to live the freedom of the children of God.
Do not despair, thinking that you cannot change yourself after so many years. Simply enter into the presence of Jesus as you are and ask Him to give you a fearless heart where He can be with you. You cannot make yourself different. Jesus came to give you a new heart, a new spirit, a new mind, and a new body. Let Him transform you by His love and enables you to receive His affection in your whole being. (pg 40)
5.Let Your Lion lie down with Your Lamb
There is within you a lamb and a lion. Spiritual maturity is the ability to let lamb and lion lie down together. Your lion is your adult, aggressive self. It is your initiative-taking and decision-making self. But there is also your fearful, vulnerable lamb, the part of you that needs affection, support, affirmation, and nurturing.
When you heed only your lion, you will find yourself overextended and exhausted. When you take notice only of your lamb, you will easily become a victim of your need for other people’s attention. The art of spiritual living is to fully claim both your lion and your lamb. Then you can act assertively without denying your own needs. And you can ask for affection and care without betraying your talent to offer leadership.
Developing your identity as a child of God in no way means giving up your responsibilities. Likewise, claiming your adult self in no way means that you cannot become increasingly a child of God. In fact, the opposite is true. The more you can feel safe as a child of God, the freer you will be to claim your mission in the world as a responsible human being. And the more you claim that you have a unique task to fulfil for God, the more open you will be to letting your deepest need be met.
The Kingdom of peace that Jesus came to establish begins when your lion and lamb can freely and fearlessly lie down together. (pg 78)
Your love, in so far as it is from God, is permanent. You can claim the permanence of your love as a gift from God. And you can give that permanent love to others. When others stop loving you, you do not have to stop loving them. On a human level, changes might be necessary, but on the level of the divine, you can remain faithful to your love.
One day you will be free to give gratuitous love, a love that does not ask for anything in return. One day also you will be free to receive gratuitous love. Often love is offered to you, but you do not recognise it. You discard it because you are fixed on receiving it from the same person to whom you gave it.
The great paradox of love is that precisely when you have claimed yourself as God’s beloved child, have set boundaries to your love, and thus contained your needs, you begin to grow into the freedom to give gratuitously. (pg 11)
The following passages are taken from Father Henri J.M. Nouwen’s book “Bread for the Journey,” published in 1997:
1.Baptism, becoming Children of the Light
When Jesus appears for the last time to the disciples, He sends them out into the world saying, “Go. . . make disciples of all nations; baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19)
Jesus offers us baptism as the way to enter into communion with God, Father, Son, and Spirit, and to live our lives as God’s beloved children. Through baptism we say no to the world. We declare that we no longer want to remain children of the darkness but want to become children of the light, God’s children. We do not want to escape the world, but want to live in it without belonging to it. That is what baptism enables us to do. (Sept 25)
2.Baptism, the Way to Freedom
When parents have their children baptised they indicate their desire to have their children grow up and live as children of God and brothers and sisters of Jesus, and be guided by the Holy Spirit.
Through birth a child is given to parents; through baptism a child is given to God. At baptism the parents acknowledge that their parenthood is a participation in God’s parenthood that all fatherhood and motherhood comes from God. Thus, baptism frees the parents from a sense of owning their children. Children belong to God and are given to the parents to love and care for in God’s name. It is the parents’ vocation to welcome their children as honoured guests in their home and bring them to the physical, emotional, and spiritual freedom that enables them to leave the home and become parents themselves. Baptism reminds parents of this vocation and sets children on the path of freedom. (Sept 27)
3.Becoming Fathers and Mothers
What are we going to do when we get home? When the two sons of the parable of the prodigal son both have returned to their father, what then? The answer is simple: They have to become fathers themselves. Sons have to become fathers, daughters have to become mothers. Being children of God involves growing up and becoming like God. Jesus doesn’t hesitate to say this: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,. . be compassionate as your heavenly Father is compassionate.” (Matthew 5:48 and Luke 6:36) How? By welcoming home our lost brothers and sisters the way our Father welcomes us home. (July 2)
How do we welcome home our lost brothers and sisters? By running out to them, embracing them, and kissing them. By clothing them with the best clothes we have and making them our honoured guests. By offering them the best food and inviting friends and family for a party. And most important of all, by not asking for excuses or explanations, only showing our immense joy that they are with us again. (see Luke 15:20-24)
That is being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. It is forgiving from the heart without a trace of self-righteousness, recrimination, or even curiosity. The past is wiped out. What counts is the here and now, where all that fills our hearts is gratitude for the homecoming of our brothers and sisters. (July 3)
5.Claiming the Identity of Jesus
When we think about Jesus as that exceptional, unusual person who lived long ago and whose life and words continue to inspire us, we might avoid the realisation that Jesus wants us to be like Him. Jesus Himself keeps saying in many ways that He, the Beloved Child of God, came to reveal to us that we too are God’s beloved children, loved with the same unconditional love.
John writes to his people, “You must see what great love the Father has lavished on us by letting us be called God’s children---which is what we are” (1 John 3:1) This is the great challenge of the spiritual life; to claim the identity of Jesus for ourselves and to say, “We are the living Christ today!” (June 3)
6.Jesus Living within Us
When we gather around the Eucharistic table and eat from the same bread and drink from the same cup, saying, “This is the Body and Blood of Christ,” we become the living Christ, here and now.
Our faith in Jesus is not belief that Jesus, the Son of God, lived long ago, performed great miracles, presented wise teachings, died for us on the cross, and rose from the grave. Our faith first of all means that we fully accept the truth that Jesus lives within us and fulfils His divine ministry in and through us. This spiritual knowledge of the Christ living in us is what allows us to affirm fully the mystery of the incarnation, death, and resurrection as historic events. It is Christ in us who reveals to us the Christ in history. (Oct 6)
7.Empowered to Be
Who are we? Are we what we do? Are we what others say about us? Are we the power we have? It often seems that way in our society. But the Spirit of Jesus given to us reveals our true spiritual identities. The Spirit reveals that we belong not to a world of success, fame, or power but to God. The world enslaves us with fear; the Spirit frees us from that slavery and restores us to the true relationship. That is what Paul means when he says, “All who are guided by the Spirit of God are sons (daughters) of God, for what you received was not the spirit of slavery to bring you back to fear; you received the spirit of adoption, enabling us to cry out, ‘Abba, Father!’” (Romans 8:15)
Who are we? We are God’s beloved sons and daughters! (June 10)
8.We are the Glory of God
Living a spiritual life is living a life in which our spirits and the Spirit of God bear a joint witness that we belong to God as God’s beloved children. “The Spirit himself joints with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God.”(Romans 8:16) This witness involves every aspect of our lives. Paul says, “Whatever you eat, then, or drink, and whatever else you do, do it all for the glory of God.”(Romans 10:31) And we are the glory of God when we give full visibility to the freedom of the children of God.
When we live in communion with God’s Spirit, we can only be witnesses, because wherever we go and whomever we meet, God’s Spirit will manifest itself through us. (June 18)
Jesus is given to the world. He was chosen, blessed, and broken to be given. Jesus’ life and death are a life and death for others. The Beloved Son of God, chosen from all eternity, was broken on the cross so that this one life could multiply and become food for people of all places and all times.
As God’s beloved children we have to believe that our little lives, when lived as God’s chosen and blessed children, are broken to be given to others. We too have to become bread for the world. When we live our brokenness under the blessing, our lives will continue to bear fruits from generation to generation. That is the story of saints---they died, but they continue to be alive in the hearts of those who live after them---and this can be our story too.(July 16)
10. What we Feel is not who we are
Our emotional lives move up and down constantly. Sometimes we experience great mood swings: from excitement to depression, from joy to sorrow, from inner harmony to inner chaos. A little event, a word from someone, a disappointment in work, many things can trigger such mood swings. Mostly we have little control over these changes. It seems that they happen to us rather than being created by us.
Thus, it is important to know that our emotional life is not the same as our spiritual life. Our spiritual life is the life of the Spirit of God within us. As we feel our emotions shift we must connect our spirits with the Spirit of God and remind ourselves that what we feel is not who we are. We are and remain, whatever our mood, God’s beloved children. (July 23)
11.Bridging the Gap between People
To become neighbours is to bridge the gap between people. As long as there is distance between us and we cannot look into one another’s eyes, all sorts of false ideas and images arise. We give them names, make jokes about them, cover them with our prejudices, and avoid direct contact. We think of them as enemies. We forget that they love as we love, care for their children as we care for ours, become sick and die as we do. We forget that they are our brothers and sisters and treat them as objects that can be destroyed at will.
Only when we have the courage to cross the road and look in one another’s eyes can we see there that we are children of the same God and members of the same human family. (July 22)
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