Franciscan Spirit Blog

We Are God’s Beloved

Young girl smiling happily

I hate to see people suffer because they worry about the wrong things and misread what God thinks of them. They feel guilty for past sins—sins for which they have been forgiven. They worry that a fleeting emotion, an uninvited feeling, or a persistent temptation is a sin. They demand of themselves inhuman perfection. All these worries keep them from feeling the warmth of God’s love.

I’ve found the approach of Jesuit Peter van Breemen helpful for me and for others. He writes: “Don’t think little of yourself because God does not think little of you. Ask God for the gift of seeing yourself as God sees you—beloved beyond all measure.”

Seeing yourself as God sees you is a worthy goal. Does that mean we ignore our faults? Not at all. We may even be able to see our faults more clearly. We will have the energy and grace to discern—with the help of the Holy Spirit—whatever hinders our relationship with God or others. It could be our pride or unwillingness to forgive. To use a medical analogy, dealing with symptoms is not enough. We need to identify the cause. God helps us do that and gives us grace to overcome our sins. When we fall, God is there to pick us up, get us on our feet, and help us learn from our mistakes. God walks with us on our journey, always loving us.

With God’s help, we face up to our sins and weaknesses, beg pardon for them, and never forget that we are “beloved beyond all measure.”

As St. Francis of Assisi said, “I am what I am in God’s sight. Nothing more, nothing less.” What he’s saying is this: I am a sinner, but a forgiven sinner. I am a work-in-progress. God, in both patience and love, is still helping me to be more like his Son.

Franciscan theologian Michael Guinan asks the crucial question: “What does it mean to be human before God?” He finds two answers in Scripture. One, “To be human is to be a weak, fallen creature prone to sin and death. We cry out to God and God enters our world to save us. . . . As true as this answer is,” Father Guinan notes, “in itself it is inadequate.”

He calls the second answer the blessing tradition: “To be huma

n is also to be created by God, to be God’s image entrusted with responsibility to share in God’s dominion over creation. We have not only been saved by God, but we have also been blessed by God.”

Van Breemen follows the blessing tradition in reminding us “to see ourselves as God sees us—beloved beyond all measure.” St. Paul says “the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” He adds, “where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.”

We are coworkers, co-heirs, daughters, and sons of God.

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4 thoughts on “We Are God’s Beloved”

  1. Excellent analysis that really hit home for me. With my addictive personality and perfectionism I wasn’t allowing myself to allowing God’s forgiveness for my sins, even though I’ve been a practicing Catholic all my life. I always considered that I hadn’t suffered or been punished enough for my sins instead of realizing how beloved I am in God’s eyes which has always been a problem for me realizing all my life. But thanks to God’s true mercy and forgiveness, plus the good Lord Jesus’s example of a beloved child of God the original thanks to the blessed Virgin Mary’s acceptance of God’s plan of salvation for all of our lives.
    Then by the sacrifice, death, and Resurrection of our good Lord Jesus, we are all heirs to the kingdom of heaven through the grace of the Holy Spirit and baptism if we just open our hearts to God, which I’m trying to do it God’s way instead of my way and 58 years of hard living that has left me disabled with heart and lung problems. I’m still processing that I’m always beloved after so many years of being my own worse enemy living life my way instead of God’s way. But thanks to daily prayer emails like this format and my daily readings of Magnificat plus weekly communion and my annointment of the sick, my life is getting better living things God’s way as long as I focus on how beloved I am instead of allowing myself to be self critical like I did all my life. May my testimony help open other people’s hearts to realize how beloved they are too. Thanks again for your emails.

  2. Mary Ann Young

    The comment above really helped me along with the reading. I am 81 and dealing with scoliosis. The list of what I can’t do is long but now I am more willing to look to the Lord for answers and not to figure it out on my own.

  3. I really connected to the bit about doubting God’s forgiving me and my own conviction that even the most fleeting thoughts and emotions that aren’t ‘good’ are sins.
    Resonates with the mistrust of being loved or lovable too.
    This amazing Catholic thing….it certainly is hard to get your head round eh?
    Thanks brothers and sisters.

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