Reflection on Our Identity

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (See Luke 3:15-17, 21-22 NRSV).

Contemplative prayer leads us to the presence of God within ourselves and the world around us. Contemplation is not an escape from life as it is. Contemplative prayer is the voice of the Holy One is being heard in the soul with or without words. It is the Holy Spirit within us confirming us in our identity as Beloved of God through Jesus, God’s Beloved Son. In contemplation the Holy Spirit helps us to listen to that voice that speaks in our eternal truth, that is The Holy Essence in a sanctified union with our essence.

Today’s celebration of the Baptism of Jesus Christ is our affirmation of who we are. We are claimed as God’s Beloved, and God is well pleased with us because of God’s boundless and infinite love. The mysticism of what we recall today, is the opening of Heaven as Christ, the Godhead in the human flesh adopts us as the redeemed children of God. “So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God” (See Galatians 4:4-7).

In her book, The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century, Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB wrote,

“The person who prays for the presence of God is, ironically, already in the presence of God. The person who seeks God has already found God to some extent. ‘We are counted as God’s own,’ the Rule reminds us. Benedict know this and clearly want us to know it as well” (p.6).

How are you celebrating your identity as God’s Beloved today?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

If you feel led to buy me some coffee to help support this ministry, please scroll down to the bottom of the right sidebar and click on the Benedictine Coffee Mug to make a contribution. Thank you so very much.

The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ

BaptismoftheLord

 

And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with Whom I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:17 NRSV).

In a world where it seems that everyone is so critical and suspicious of each other, it is so wonderful to know that our God views us very differently.

The manifestation of Christ which is what we celebrate in this Season of The Epiphany also means revelation.   In the Baptism of Christ, Jesus goes an extra step forward.  Following Jesus’ Baptism, God says, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with Whom I am well pleased.”

In Jesus, God takes on human flesh and reclaims our broken humanity.  We are renewed in body, soul, mind and spirit.  When God says that Jesus is God’s Beloved with Whom God is well pleased; God is saying that so are we who share in the mystery of our redemption in Christ.  In and through Jesus, we too are God’s Beloved, with Whom God is well pleased.

What wondrous words to spend time in silence and contemplation with.  We don’t need to talk very much.  What we need is to ponder with Mary in our hearts, that God is here among us and claiming us as God’s Beloved, and with us, God is well pleased.

Do you see yourself as God’s Beloved, with whom God is well pleased?

Amen.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

“In his goodness, God has already counted us as God’s children.” (The Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue).

Visit: http://www.cos-osb.org

Not One, Not Two

OceanWaves

Once upon a time, the story begins, some seekers from the city asked the local monastic a question:

“How does one seek union with God”?

And the Wise One said, “The harder you seek, the more distance you create between God and you.”

“So what does one do about the distance?”  the seekers asked.

And the elder said simply, “Just understand that it isn’t there.”

“Does that mean that God and I are one?” the disciples said.

And the monastic said, “Not one.  Not two.”

“But how is that possible?” the seekers insisted.

And the monastic answered, “Just like the sun and its light, the ocean and the wave, the singer and the song.  Not one. But not two.”  (Taken from Wisdom Distilled From the Daily, p. 195. Written by Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB).

The wonderful story told to us by Sr. Joan reinforces an inescapable truth about prayer.  Prayer deepens our relationship with God and one another.  I would tend to take what she wrote a step further by writing that not only are we not one, and not two with God; we are also not one, nor two with one another.  Genesis 1:26 confirms that we are created in the image of the Holy Trinity; a Community of relationship through the love of God who is in Community with God’s Self in each of the Three Persons.  In the death and resurrection of Christ, we are redeemed and set free to live into that relationship through our common Baptism.  As prayer is a means for taking such a relationship with God to a deeper level; prayer also deepens our relationships with one another.

Thomas Keating in his book One Mind, One Heart wrote about how through all of the things we attach ourselves to, we move further away from God who is at the center of our being.  Centering prayer is a fantastic means of taking us back to the presence of God who is there waiting for us to spend time with God.  In centering prayer, we are not looking for anything magical or a feeling that will psychologically satisfy us.  Keating recommends that if we experience something that we feel or satisfies our psychological impulses during centering prayer, that we detach our thoughts even from those.  Feelings or emotions (whatever word you want to use) are good in and of themselves, until we begin to identify ourselves on the basis of them.  “I am a happy person.”  “I am a charismatic person, because I feel the Spirit within me.”  What Sr. Joan and Thomas Keating are telling us is that we are not one, not two with God and one another except by the walls we put up to create a distance that God has already removed.

Jesus calls you and I today to live into a relationship with God through that purity of heart that searches for God for God’s sake alone.  Jesus invites us into a deeper contemplation of His presence so with all the obstacles out of the way; including all those labels so that only the love of God and one another radiates from the relationship of community we share together.  What could be more awesome than that?

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB

With Us, God is Well-Pleased

BaptismoftheLord

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9-11 NRSV).

Tomorrow, Christians will be celebrating The First Sunday after The Epiphany and The Baptism of the Lord.  Of this great feast, St. Maximus of Turin wrote:

For when the Savior is washed all water for our baptism was made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages.  Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after him with confidence. (The Liturgy of the Hours, Volume 1, Advent and Christmas Seasons, p.612).

At Christ’s Baptism, our identity as Christians was bestowed on us in the Person and action of Jesus.  Even more so, by the Holy Spirit descending and the voice from heaven that said, “You are my Beloved; with you I am well-pleased.” In God’s own words that proclaimed Jesus, God’s Incarnate Word; as God’s Beloved; with whom God was well-pleased; are also bestowed upon all of us by our common Baptism into the life of Jesus.

It does not matter what we have done in the past.  Those labels that others use to divide and define us, are meant to stamp us out for what we are.  God welcomes us to live into who we are, and who we are to become.

“You are my Beloved; with you I am well-pleased.”

That is just something much too wonderful not to contemplate.

Amen.

Br. Anselm Philip King-Lowe, n/OSB