The Beloved One

The Beloved One

Is John the most arrogant of all the disciples?

Throughout the Gospel of John, essentially whenever John refers to himself, he doesn’t use his name. Instead, he says “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” At first glance, it might seem like pure arrogance, pride over the fact that John was one of the “inner three” Jesus drew particularly close to Himself.

Or it might be something else entirely.

When I discuss this title with my students, they are a bit surprised that John refers to himself as the beloved disciple. But then I try to draw their attention to the other claims John could have made.

John, the only disciple at the foot of the cross.
John, the one who leaned his head near the heart of Jesus and sat next to Him at the Last Supper.
John, the disciple who arrived first to the tomb after the Resurrection (because he ran faster than Peter).
John, the youngest of the disciples.
John, the one to whom Jesus entrusted His mother.

What do we see instead? John, the one whom Jesus loved.

There are several unique roles that John played, but when writing the account of Jesus, he chooses to simply be known by the fact that Jesus loved him. More than everything else, the love of Jesus is the most precious to John. He is the beloved disciple.

Contrary to what we might think initially, his belovedness is not in conflict with anyone else’s belovedness. It isn’t John, the one Jesus loved more than all others or to the exclusion of all others. It is simply: John, beloved by Jesus.

It is a title we could all claim.

Is that what I see first, though: my belovedness?

Continue reading “The Beloved One”

This Is Us

This Is Us

I have a friend who once said that some things are cliché because they are true.  Phrases that seem trite and overused are sometimes the best way to say what we want to say.  They have become clichés because they express a truth like nothing else really can.

At times, I fight against what it seems a lot of people like or consider to be the best.  But sometimes, it is because it is actually good that so many people rave about specific things.  On Facebook, I’ve seen quite a few people talking about how much they loved the show “This Is Us.”  With the school year wrapped up, I decided to give it a try.

I don’t think a show has ever pulled at my heart as much as this one has.

I love how they portray the complexity of the human heart.  In this show, families are messy, imperfect, and crucial to our own identity.  As the show unfolds, perfect facades crumble to reveal that everyone is striving to get through life doing the best they can and making numerous mistakes along the way.  It is very human, which makes it simultaneously beautiful and frustrating.  Though the families can be chaotic, a theme interwoven in the show is the importance of family.  Whether they are blood relations or adopted family, the experiences we have in our homes shape how we interact with the rest of the world.

This Is Us- Season 1
THIS IS US — Pictured: “This Is Us” Horizontal Key Art — (Photo by: NBCUniversal)

In a world that seems to insist that families can be replaced with technology or friend groups, it is refreshing to see families upheld as the place where we grow, change, and become who we are.  Imperfect families, with parents fighting their own struggles and children feeling their own unique pains, are the places that shape us and show us how to love.  “This Is Us” doesn’t claim that all families are perfect or should be perfect.  I would say they are simply claiming that the role of family is irreplaceable.   Continue reading “This Is Us”

Who is your father?

“Who is your father?”

The words are spoken by the silver-tongued devil as Jesus agonizes in the garden.  I am always struck by the way Satan is portrayed in “The Passion of the Christ” and how perfectly it is done.  Part of me thinks he should be far more evil in appearance and words but I think they actually did it correctly.  Satan doesn’t tempt us with murder at first.  Rather he sows seeds of doubt and distrust.  Jesus agonizes in the garden and Satan is attacking His very identity.  To attack His identity means to attack the very relationship that defines Him, that defines us.

Who is your father?  The question is laden with subtle hints that a loving father would not subject His only beloved son to such torture.  Such suffering is unnecessary, it is unkind, it is not good.  Satan is trying to shake the belief that God is all-good and all-loving.  Once the question of doubt is placed about the Father, then he attempts to destroy the very image of the Son.

“Who are you?”  Such simple questions.  With such simple answers.  Yet in the midst of despair and confusion, the answers can be hard to come by.  I am….who am I?  Once the relationship with the Father is cut, then it is much easier to destroy who you are.  Think of the Lion King.  Mufasa appears to Simba and says that because Simba has forgotten who he is, he has also forgotten who his father is.  We also can fall into the same trap.  We forget ourselves because we have forgotten who the Father is.

Satan plants these little lies, these questions, these doubts and then lets them wreck havoc in our lives.  Who are we?  “You are my son (daughter), the one true king…and you must take your place in the circle of life.”  Theological translation?  You are the son/daughter of the one true King and you must take your place in the Body of Christ.

He is.

You are because He is.

Never think that He is because you are.  You are the dependent being.  You are the one who relies on Him for everything.  Do not let Satan shake your foundation.  One of the best things I have learned (and strive to put into practice) is simply asking, “Would Jesus speak to me in this way?”  Jesus challenges us and pushes us forward but He doesn’t do this by tearing us apart.

St. Francis of Assisi prayed, “Who are you, Lord my God, and who am I?”  This is very different from how Satan approaches the issue.  He attacks when we are weak and questioning.  He uses the questions to create distance, not to draw us nearer to Our Lord.  Satan’s questions cause unrest, lack of peace, and sow doubt.  The prayer of St. Francis encourages depth and seeking the Truth about God.

Who is your father?  Who are you?  You are the Beloved of the Father.  The Father is transcendent and immanent.  He is Mercy, Love, Goodness.  He is the great I AM.  He doesn’t need you but He loves you radically.  He is the origin of all things, the Creator of the Universe.  He is wonder, awe, and beauty that we find all around us.  He is.  And because He is, we are.

“here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”
–excerpt from ee cummings [i carry your heart with me (i carry it in]