Pastor's Pen, Baptism of The Lord

Once a month I say Mass at the Grace Hospital.  One of the residents is an older man who knows no English.  I have noticed that during the Mass he always has to be holding someone’s hand.  Even after the mass when I visit with him, he again, has to hold my hand.  It is a beautiful thing that he does in that, it seems to me, in his desire for touch he is always reaching out for love.  For most of us, our inhibitions and anxieties restrict our reaching out for love.  Sometimes we may think it is better to play it safe.  That is, we don’t reach out in order to avoid any possible rejection.  In our faith and relationship with God do we not sometimes, if not often times, do the same?  I think we do, at least I certainly know that I do.  And yet with the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, which we celebrate this Sunday, God reveals to us why such a feeling or disposition is absolutely unnecessary. 

Let us go back and do a little bit of Sunday School.  The first two Ecumenical Councils of the Church, Nicaea and Constantinople dealt with one principal concern:  was Jesus Christ just a man, just God, or both?  Gratefully, the Church took the most difficult position, that Christ was perfectly God and perfectly human.  What then, does this bit of Church teaching, that we memorized as children, have to do with the Baptism of the Lord?  When Jesus is baptized by John, he is not baptized merely as a man, nor merely as God, but as both.  And so the Church teaches that when God the Father says “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased,” that through his humanity, the Father’s pronouncement is directed to all of us.  In the silence of our hearts can we hear the words of the Father addressed to each of us?  Do you hear the Father say of you and to you, “this is my beloved, in whom I take delight?” I suspect for many of us, perhaps most of us, such a statement of reality is difficult to believe and accept. Its difficulty, however, does not mean that it is not true. Like the man who reaches out to anyone’s hand at the Grace Hospital, so too do we desire to reach out and hold God’s hand.  But sadly our fears, our anxieties, and our insecurities stop us from reaching out.  I think there are two places through which we can know things, the first is our minds and the second is our hearts.  While both are important in our faith, I think the heart is primary.  We are called to know in our hearts that the Father delights in us.  It is not our sinfulness, it is not our imperfections, it is not our doubts that he sees.  Rather it is always his beloved child.  It can be difficult to believe and accept but in our hearts let us know this – “here is… my chosen, in whom my soul delights.” 

God Bless and Take Care!

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