January 12, 2014
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Reading 1 Is 42:1-4, 6-7
Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Reading 2 Acts 10:34-38
Gospel Mt 3:13-17
I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve been privileged to baptize children since ordination. However, one memorable experience of baptism sticks out among the many—though each is extraordinary. This was at a former parish where I served. The child, a girl, was brought to the baptismal fount in the arms of her father. She was the perfect baby, quiet and sleeping through most of the baptism . . . until . . . the cold water hit her little forehead. At that point, her eyes opened widely, she paused, her mouth opened, and she let out what seemed like a beautiful laugh! At that point, her father shouted out, almost involuntarily, “she sees God!” Really? Did the little baby see God?
Jesus shows us, in today’s gospel, that baptism is about God’s delighting in us and claiming us as his delightful children. Perhaps the child could see, surrounded by love, what we older, jaded, and even pained adults can’t, or have forgotten: we are God’s beloved children in whom God is well-pleased.
My question to you today—do you feel like God’s beautiful, beloved children? Or have you forgotten the truth that you are beloved in God’s eyes? How might we have forgotten? Maybe we have forgotten because of what others have told us, or worse, what we tell ourselves: that we are stupid, too fat, too skinny, ugly, old, young, etc. If you are telling yourself this, or allow others to do this, I must tell you the truth: you are mistaken! Instead, you are a beloved child of God in whom the Father is well-pleased.
The Eucharist is our weekly renewal of our baptisms, when God comes to us in His True Presence and says to us: no matter what the world says—no matter what YOU say, you are my beloved child in whom I am well-pleased! But, we want to say, I’ve done this . . . or I’ve become this . . . The message, remarkably, is still the same—no matter what you have done, no matter what you have become, you are still beautiful in God’s eyes and His beloved child.
Come, then, beloved children, come and receive God’s life. Come and recall who you are—in case you have forgotten: Come, mistaken ones, come and see God, who says: you are my beloved child, my beautiful, beloved child, in whom I am well-pleased!