To hear someone, declare to you: I love you is just overwhelming. In fact, it marks a turning point in a relationship. Isn’t there something similar in the baptism of Jesus? Let’s see then how this can be a turning point in our lives.
Isaiah 40: 1–5, 9–11
Psalm 104: 1–4, 24–24, 27–30
Titus 2: 11–14; 3 4–7
Luke 3: 15–22
I love you
Regardless of where you are reading this post from, with all cultural differences; love is an experience common to human beings. It makes us live. We love, and we want to be loved. It’s disarming to hear someone say to you: I love you. Such simple, short phrase has shaken up many lives. Probably yours too.
In fact, it marks a critical stage in the life of a teenager, easy to notice. Apparently from nowhere, your child just can’t eat as usual -no appetite; in class, as a teacher, you notice a pupil completely absent minded -gazing into emptiness; or perhaps it’s in the library where you spot a student, minutes are passing but she’s still on the same page. What’s the matter? You may wonder; there may not be any problem at all. They may simply be under charm, someone declared love to them. It’s not only for teenagers, it can catch you at any age.
However, it’s not only the presence of love that overwhelms, its absence too. If you find it distressing to wait for a delayed bus when you have an urgent appointment, perhaps, it’s worse to be left in suspense about your relationship. You wait for some declaration which will not only clarify the relationship but will also move it a step further. Of course, you don’t want to date for eternity. And even after getting married, telling your partner you love them is a life line to your marriage. But some people take it for granted, and just forget about it. “I wonder if he still loves me,” it’s a lament of distress and doubt that is not rare in relationships, “he does not tell me anything anymore.” Such cry is to be taken seriously. Happily, we are spared from it.
I, baptising you?
John has been telling the people who come to him:
“I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
But what do we see? The one who is more powerful asks him for baptism. Matthew, unlike Luke, gives the dialogue showing the hesitation of John (cf. Mt 3:13-17). Looking ordinary like anyone else, Jesus puts himself in the queue of “sinners.” Indeed, that boy who was born in the stable, fragile like any baby, the one whom the Magi came to worship, today, joins the sinful humanity on the path to the cleansing water of the Jordan. The aim is not expose or condemn it, but rather so that, through him, the entire humanity can hear and rejoice in rediscovering its filial relationship with the Father: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” The gates of the garden of God, Eden, which were closed after the sin of our first parents, are now thrown open for us. Beauty of reconciliation!
My thoughts go to those friends, workmates and couples who, for one reason or another, may be suffering a momentary separation. My prayer for them is that they find time to sit down and talk things over, so that they may embrace each other as sign of their willingness to resume their journey together. Yes, doors may be closed today, tomorrow they may be open. It’s possible!
At baptism our dignity is revealed
It makes us feel good when someone loves us, and even more so, when they declare it. That’s what happens at our baptism; and that’s the source of our joy on this feast of the baptism of the Lord. There are times when go through experiences that leave us feeling miserable and demolished. When that happens, it’s important for us to keep in mind who are, through Jesus: we are beloved sons and beloved daughters of the Father. That’s the grace of baptism.
Our vocation, firstly, is to honour this dignity that has been gratuitously bestowed on us. We are God’s children and we just can’t live otherwise. So, if we can talk of conversion; it’s precisely about becoming true to who we are. And yet, that doesn’t mean being obsessed with ourselves, like someone stuck before a mirror admiring oneself. We need to move.
We are also called to radiate the face of the Father. Many are persons out there who have lost the meaning and the taste of life. They need an assuring and loving presence to help them get reconciled with themselves and get on their feet. They need to experience love.
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”; may these words, which resound in the baptismal rites, trigger a new departure in us all, especially in the lives of those who need it most.
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