One of my favourite quotes is from theologian Hans Ur von Balthasar. It reads: ‘After a mother has smiled at her child for many days and weeks, she finally receives her child’s smile in response. She has awakened love in the heart of her child. God interprets himself to humans as love in the same way; He radiates love, which kindles the light of love in the heart of a human, and it is precisely this light that allows us to perceive this, the absolute Love. Just as no child can be awakened to love without being loved, so too no human heart can come to an understanding of God without the free gift of His grace – in the image of His Son.’
Balthasar uses this experience between a mother and her child as an illustration of how all of us come to know that we are the beloved of God. A seed of love is planted into each of our souls, a deep longing to be loved, but it can only be awakened by our being deeply loved.
Our deepest longing is to be loved by our Creator. If we knew we were truly loved by God, as we are, our souls would be whole. Sadly, very few people know that they are loved. We live in a world of competition, separation, isolation, performance and reward. We are taught from an early age that love must be merited by our behaviour, and we project this onto God.
The cross of Jesus Christ shouts that we are loved – as we are, not as we should be. God, in Jesus, reveals the great mystery: God is love, and we are his beloved. It is his gift to us.
And it is a gift which transforms. The truth that we are unconditionally loved leads us to the only place where we can truly love – it awakens us to our holiness, strengthening us and leading us to love and serve.
God is smiling at you. Can you see it?
I am God’s chosen, holy and beloved child.
Gracious Abba, thank you for sending your Spirit to show me that I am loved. In a world that tells me love must be earned, strengthen my faith; help me to believe that I am loved as I am. Let me live and believe that I am loved. Amen.
Why is this fundamental truth (that we are God’s beloved) so difficult for so many of us to believe?