Sunday, January 12
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Matthew 3: 13 – 17
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
“I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness.”
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
The Baptism of Jesus. Two phrases drew me into this week’s Gospel passage. Jesus came up from the water and he heard the voice, “This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” He came up from the waters of baptism. He was called beloved. He was told that God was well pleased even though he had not done anything yet. He rose up from the waters of baptism and he knew his identity.
NOTE TO SELF: Everyone single one of us is a beloved child of God. We have been from the time God formed us in our mother’s womb and that relationship is forever. God has been pleased with us from the beginning. Msgr. Hendricks says, “God is crazy in love with us.” God calls us beloved. That is so overwhelmingly important to us and sadly, we often find hard to believe. Sometimes we forget it. Sometimes we take it for granted. Sometimes we try to earn it. Sometimes we reject it. It’s not about us, folks. It is about God’s eternal love for us. You are the beloved child of God – that is it. It is non-negotiable and eternal. It is a pure gift.
How does this Gospel passage speak to us? We, too, came up from the waters of Baptism and we were reminded of our truest identity. You are a beloved son or daughter of God, in whom God is well pleased. Know who you are! Claim who you are! Embrace who you are! Live who you are! Who are you?
I recently used the picture shown to introduce a Bible Study Program. I think this should be on your bathroom mirror or in the car visor, or any place where you would see it frequently during the day. When you see it say it: “I am a beloved child of God.” What does the beloved do? The beloved does what Jesus did: forgives, includes others, reaches out to others, embraces and welcomes those on the margins, has mercy, works for peace and justice for everyone, works to reconcile not divide and brings God to everyone they meet.
Today, so many clamoring voices today try to define who we are — resist those voices (even if it is your own voice). Come up from the waters of Baptism and claim your identity. You are a child of God and have been defined by God.
When you are tempted to hate others come up from the waters of your baptism and claim your true identity, “I am a child of God.” Make another choice and love others. When you are tempted by the rumors of war and violence, come up from the waters of your baptism and claim your true identity, “I am a beloved child of God.” Make another choice and be a peace maker and justice-seeker. When you are tempted to lie, cut corners, be dishonest, be a gossip spreader or gossip gatherer, or judger of others – come up from the waters of your baptism and claim your truest identity: “I am a beloved child of God.” Make another choice and choose what is right, kind and good. When I am tempted to (fill in your temptation) ________________, come up from the waters of Baptism and make another choice. Note to Self: You are a beloved child of God. This is what defines you and identifies you, not your faults, sins or accomplishments. God defined you as beloved.
Print out that Note to Self and put it somewhere where you will see it frequently. Mine is on my car visor. “I am a beloved child of God! and God is well pleased.” Say it repeatedly. Say it many times a day, until your heart is convinced and your actions with and towards others shows it. You might also want to pray Psalm 139.
-Sr. Teresa Tuite, OP