Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Baptism of the Lord

St. Vincent's Chapel 9:00 PM

The Catholic University of America

It just didn't make sense to John.
He knew Jesus and he knew there was something very special about him.
Some say they may have grown up together.
From their common experience,
John might have even found himself wondering if Jesus was the chosen one, the Messiah,
the one that for whom all of Israel had been waiting

Yet, Jesus wanted to be baptized by him
He wanted to be baptized with a baptism for repentance.
If he was the Messiah Jesus had no need of repentance
Why ?
It didn't make sense at all.

Finally Jesus persuades him by telling him that it is what God wants.
It is righteous.
His baptism was part of God's plan
so John agreed

Jesus had lived in Nazareth for 30 years.
During this time he grew in wisdom and knowledge.
As He grew He must have gradually understood His special relationship with the Father and his place in God's plan more and more.

This could only have happened because he made the effort to remain in communion with God and from this communion ,from this life of prayer,
from His discerning spirit,

He knew it was time to begin his work.
(Remember as a child he had kind of jumped the gun when he remained in Jerusalem on his own)

This time it was indeed God's will that he leave all that he had known and begin his mission
It was righteous.

Jesus wanted to follow the Fathers' will even when it didn't make sense, even when it seemed to fly in the face of reason.

One author had an insightful theory
He said, that through the ministry of John the Baptist
people had become more and more aware of their sinfulness and their need for conversion.

The sheer numbers of people receiving the Baptism of John might have been a sign to Jesus that the time was now.

Jesus understood that the first step in any conversion process is an acknowledgement of our brokenness and a recognition of our need for forgiveness…
The epiphany which accompanied Jesus' baptism
Must have been powerful to behold
When Jesus came out of the water
the sky opened up
the Spirit descended
and God spoke.

These three things left a very lasting impression because they are recorded in all of the synoptic Gospels

The opening of the sky show the reality that in Jesus' life his ministry, and his sacrifice the life of men and the life of God become one.

God is involved in our lives.

He is not some powerful impersonal force.
He is not a distant watch maker who makes the universe and winds it up and lets it go

In Jesus we see the depth of God's love and commitment to us
It is so clear that God is figuratively willing to pull up his sleeves and get involved.

Next God's Spirit descends
With the descent of the Holy Spirit the Spirit of God
God promises to give Jesus everything He needs to accomplish his work.

The presence of the Spirit shows the fullness of God's commitment to his saving plan which will be accomplished in Jesus.

The words which come from God are powerful and clear.
"This is my Son" comes from Psalm 2 which included a prophecy about the Messiah

"In whom I am well pleased" possibly identifies him as the Suffering Servant foretold in the Prophet Isaiah.

This is the first indication of how God will save his people.
Jesus would not be a political leader.
He would not end world hunger.
He would save the world with sacrificial love.

What does this all mean for us?

This passage teaches us that
To discover God's will we have to live in communion
We have to discern it slowly patiently.

Sometimes when God calls it just won't make sense
Why do I have to do this?
Why do I have to do that?
Why should I ever forgive her/him?
How can I afford another child
Why would they ever assign me to that parish?

At first glance Jesus' life doesn't make sense

Why should our lives make sense?

But we see that in this simple act of baptism which doesn't make sense to John

God's whole loving plan is begun.

The epiphany or manifestation of God's love which followed
reminds us in the confusion of our lives

God is not removed
He is present, involved, caring

I was speaking to a young man once and he refused to believe in God
He could not bring himself to believe that an all powerful all knowing God could love him.

How can God Love a speck of dust
He asked me once with a desperation in his voice.

I am nothing my whole life was determined from the very first moment of the big bang
The chemicals in my body are worth around $10.00 now its 6.5 euros

All I could say to him was that God indeed cares
God cares so much about us that he sent his only Son to save us and show us the way home.

Just like Jesus received the Spirit we all can receive the Spirit.
When we open our heats to God's spirit we will have everything we need.

Think about it…
God would never could never give us this life and desire our salvation without giving us everything we need to come home to him,

Finally holy one, Just as God's plan is fulfilled in self sacrificing love
So to… we have to be willing to pour out our lives in sacrificial love

This is not easy.
Jesus himself struggled with it.
Even he looked for another way to love
In the garden of Gethsemane cried out
"let this cup pass from me"
There was no other way.
Love means being willing to suffer.
Real love is never really easy never.

As we begin this new semester
Let the Baptism of Jesus remind us that
Our hope and our salvation rest
In discerning God's will
And following it whole heartedly

All of us are part of God's plan

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