Chosen and Loved
Gospel Reflection for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Jesus lived every moment of his life glorifying His Heavenly Father and honoring His earthly parents. According to commentary on this Gospel, I learned that it was common in ancient society for younger siblings to look up to the eldest brother for guidance on how to honor and obey one's parents. Jesus is the firstborn of our one, holy, catholic, and apostolic family - the Church. He tells us about how the Father loves us and how we are called to love Him.
As a member of the Trinity, Jesus takes part in perichoresis. Perichoresis is my favorite theological word that means "divine dance of love within the Trinity." Our God is a God of relationship. It is through relationships that we are seen, known, and loved. We are also challenged to grow into better versions of ourselves as we learn how our lives impact those around us.
In my first dating relationship, I had a tough time allowing myself to be loved and chosen. In my mind, my boyfriend could have had anyone he desired. Yet, he chose me (at least for a few years). I remember meeting with a spiritual director during our relationship and really reflecting on Mary's heart in the Annunciation. She was chosen among all women to give birth to Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I finally got to a point where I felt ready and at peace being chosen as a bride. He on the other hand did not feel worthy of me choosing him and broke up with me. After years of healing from that heartbreak, I began to pray that he would see and love the person that the Father sees and loves.
Quickly this intention became more personal for me as I wrote a book on how "you are more than your relationship status." Instead of placing our worth in our vertical relationship with God, most if not all of us place our worth in the horizontal relationships we have on earth. Though relationships do indeed help to reflect God's love, people are imperfect so their love is imperfect. God's love on the other hand is perfect and complete. He created us from, in, and for love.
Receiving some mental health diagnoses has rattled my identity of self. These "disorders" don't make me feel lovable and seem more like reasons I would not be chosen. When I tend to turn inward and feel unworthy, loved ones draw me into their love for me and point me to the Father. I see Christ through others and remember that I am not alone in the Mystical Body. I am not even capable of choosing God without Him choosing me first. The reason we are living and breathing right now is that Our Father created us, loves us, and is thinking of us.
We are loved. We are chosen. We can abide in Him forever.
In reflecting on this, Bishop Barron says:
"During the discourse, he gave the night before he died, Jesus summed up his life and ministry in these words: "I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete." And therefore Christians can begin to confidently and enthusiastically look for the joy of Christ all around us. Many of the spiritual masters have defined prayer, not as an escape from the ordinary, but as a kind of heightened attention to the depth dimension of the everyday and the commonplace. Where is the divine will displayed? For the one who has the discipline of vision, everywhere and in everything. For many, the spiritual life becomes dysfunctional precisely at this beginning stage. They don't look."
This week, let us pray for the grace to let ourselves be chosen and loved. Let us keep our eyes, minds, and hearts open to discover joy. May we choose joy always and never let anyone or anything steal our joy.
God's joy fills us up right where we are found. In my book, I emphasized how this joy is unconditional:
When Jesus says, “Your joy may be complete,” he does not stutter or use any conditions. He doesn’t say, “…when you are in a romantic relationship,” or “…when you are married.” Jesus provides the fullness of His grace for us today as we open ourselves up and ask for it. Often in times of waiting, we pray for anyone but ourselves. We plan for a season that we are not in. We live for a day we haven’t yet seen. Life is about the journey. Not the destination.
God wants to love you and fill you with joy! How will you respond?
Update: Writing these weekly Sunday reflections for the past 9 months has been such a beautiful opportunity to not only dig deeper into God's Word, but also share my gift of writing. Thank you to Blessed is She Indianapolis for inviting me! Recently, God has been inviting me to focus my energy on other projects. Though I will no longer be committing to reflecting on the Sunday Gospel every week I will not stop writing. Please pray for me in this transition. Know that I am praying for you as well. Stay tuned for what is to come. Come, Holy Spirit!!!