Have you ever thought about how Jesus came to understand he was lovable? Or have you ever wondered how Jesus learned how to love? These are two questions I’ve pondered on quite often.
It’s easy to think that Jesus popped out of Mary’s womb understanding all the mysteries of the world, including the fact that he was fully loved by God. If we think like this, though, we underestimate the fact that Jesus was human– fully human. As I mentioned last week, Jesus entered humanity so we can understand the way to live fully loved. This means that Jesus grew into his understanding of God’s love for him just as we do.
Who taught Jesus he was lovable?
Pope Francis at the closing homily at World Meeting of Families in 2015, said, “Of all the places God could have sent Jesus, he sent Jesus to a family.” Jesus, like us, learned that he was lovable through the concrete gestures of holiness that his parents, Mary and Joseph, offered him. The simple acts of feeding him, clothing him, keeping him safe. While much is not written in Scriptures about Jesus’ childhood, we get glimpses at the love his parents had for him in the simple gestures of love such as:
- Mary wrapping him in swaddling clothes – Lk 2:7
- Shepherds coming to see the Christ child, and Mary reflecting on all these things in her heart – Lk 2:19
- Mary and Joseph taking Jesus to the temple to be presented to their faith community and circumcised – Lk 2:22-38
- Mary and Joseph journeying for a day looking for Jesus before finding him in the temple – Lk 2:44
Being that Jesus was human, like each of us, each of these gestures of love, or as Pope Francis names them, “concrete gestures of holiness,” helped Jesus know he was lovable. Each of these experiences of love given to him by his parents and his community opened his capacity to know that he was fully loved by God.
Who in our lives taught us that we were lovable?
Looking back over our own lives, can we name people in our lives that showed us that we had value or worth because of the concrete gestures of holiness they offered us:
- Perhaps meals being provided by a parent or family member?
- A loved one providing shelter for us growing up?
- A teacher investing a little extra time to help us understand a topic?
- A coach or extracurricular teacher that saw a talent in us and had the courage to push us to use it to its fullest?
- A signifiant other that cared to hear about our day?
- A friend that showed up to celebrate a moment of your life or was there in a hard time?
When I look back over my life I can name many ways that I came to understand God’s love for me through the concrete gestures of others. I can also name instances where the actions of another closed me from receiving God’s love or caused me to question if I was worthy to receive God’s love (I’ll write more on this in a later week in our series).
Who taught Jesus how to love?
Mary and Joseph in their same way of loving Jesus through their care for him as an infant and child, in their gift of raising him within a faith community, and protecting him as they fled for their safety after his birth taught Jesus how to love also.
At the same time, we know that Jesus’ example of how to love came from his relationship with his Father, God. Throughout Jesus’ public ministry we see Jesus going off to spend time with his Father in prayer. Jesus models the way for us to live – grounded in a relationship with God.
Once, I flipped through the Gospels looking for examples of Jesus’ prayer life. It didn’t take long to come up with a list of moments of Jesus praying. Here are a few examples:
- Mt 14:23 – Jesus withdraws to pray in the evening
- Mt 1:35 – Jesus finds a deserted place to pray in the morning
- Lk 4:42 – Jesus prays even though people need him
- Lk 5:16 – Jesus makes time for prayer within his work
- Lk 23:34 – Jesus asks God to forgive
- Jn 11:41-42 – Jesus thanks God for hearing his prayer
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but just a few examples of Jesus making time to be with God and spend time in quiet with his Father. Jesus shows us that time spent with God awakens us to the depth of God’s love for us, and it also enables us and empowers us to love as God loves. Spend time each day with God in prayer, like Jesus did. Notice how your time with God helps you understand God’s love for you. Notice how it also helps you love others.
Want to Go Deeper?
- Reflect On:
- Who in my life taught me that I am lovable?
- Who in my life taught me how to love?
- Read: Awareness of God in All Things
- Pray: Journey with Jesus each day with the Ignatian Prayer Adventure material (this week would be week 2 if you began at the start of Lent)
- Have you bought your copy of Busy Lives & Restless Souls yet?
- Here’s a link to an article our local newspaper did on the book, and I am thrilled they included a picture of my beautiful family, even our dog, Hershey! My family helped make the book come to life.
- If you are in the Chicago area, I’ll be speaking at multiple events March 10th-14th. Come join me!