“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)
Friday night I spent almost an hour speaking with a young man that I have known since he was in preschool. He’s in his early 30s now and going through a rough time in his life. He was raised in the Church by two extraordinary parents who love him unconditionally. He knows the Way. He knows that he needs to go to Mass, love Jesus more, do the right things more, but he kept telling me that he just keeps getting in his own way. (Full disclosure: I’m mentioning this in my homily today because he told me to and because of the following few lines.) Towards the end of the conversation he was saying how messed up he is, using different words, and that he motivates himself by putting on his mirror the saying “YOU are the problem.” I immediately stopped him and said no no no no no, you got it all wrong, you want motivation, take that saying down and put up “Jesus is the solution!” because just like the gospel tells us this Sunday “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” I couldn’t see this young man on the other end of the line, but it is as if I could almost see the light bulb going off over his head. “You are God’s son,” I kept repeating to him over and over again. No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, you are his son!
I was speaking to a good kid who was trying to find his way through all the distracting lights of the world that I mentioned last week. It’s very difficult for us to grasp this concept that through baptism we are made God’s children. But it’s not just that. We are made God’s favorite children. I always say that God loves each and every one of us as if we were the only human being on earth. That is the depth of his love. That is why he sent his Son, why we have celebrated his birth for the last three weeks because Jesus comes to show us his Father’s eternal love. And if becoming human weren’t enough, today Jesus humbles himself yet again by being baptized. Did he need to baptized? Of course not, but I love this explanation by Dr. Scott Hahn: “Jesus doesn’t submit to John’s baptism as a sinner in need of purification. He humbles Himself to pass through Jordan’s waters in order to lead a new “exodus”—opening up the promised land of heaven…” In the Old Testament, the Israelites crossed the Jordan to enter into the promised land, and now Jesus is doing it again but the land we will inherit is flowing with much more than milk and honey and it is not of this world.
We are so very blessed. As the Christmas season draws to a close today, let us renew our baptismal promises and let us commit ourselves to go out there and remind every one we meet that they are God’s children no matter who they are or what they’ve done. And if we are the ones who are going through a rough time or are having doubts just close your eyes, picture the day of your own baptism, and listen to the voice of the Father telling you the same thing he told to Jesus: “You are my beloved son (daughter); with you I am well pleased.”