I sit here in my little mountain-top hermitage at the end of my 7 day silent retreat. I try to spend 5 or so days each year in prayerful silence, and God knows how much I need it. I can't believe how busy I let my life get. (Don't we all!) So much travel, so many wonderful people, so much opportunity. It is in moments of silence like this that I realise I need to be reminded that I am God's beloved. That's all that matters really; not the work I do for God, not who other say I am, not whom I think I am, but simply who God says I am. And God says I'm loved by Him; I'm His beloved.
The truth is we are all the Father's beloved, but many of us, even true followers of Christ, may spend their whole faith walk never really knowing it; never knowing that they are absolutely loved. It is a hard recognition. To understand that we are loved will change us forever. Love has the power to cast away all fear, all addictions and all sense of loneliness. Love has the capacity to make us come alive.
For God to love us means that He is committed to us. On my ordination day my love for God was on public display. That day I chose to lay down my life for God. I lay prostrate on the floor and stood up knowing that from that moment on I was committed to God and His cause. This is true, but only part of the truth. That day what really happened was that God publicly declared that he would be committed to me. He would commit to His beloved no matter how far I run, no matter how disillusioned I get. No matter what good or bad I do, the Father is committed to me, to let His light shine and Breath flow through my life.
When we give our lives to the Lord (no only through priesthood or religious life), we not only commit to Him, but He commits to us. This is what happens in baptism, this is what happens when we, as adults choose to say 'yes' to living out our baptismal promises. This is Love and this is Mercy!
As I prepare to get back to my parish, youth and evangelisation ministry, I go forth more confidently knowing that I am God's beloved and that (because that is what love does), He is committed to me. This is the message I will confidently be shouting out in this Year of Mercy: you are God's beloved, He is committed to you. In the mean time stop, be silent, listen, and you just might hear the Father whisper 'I love you'.