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January 8, 2018 - Living As God's Beloved

The Baptism of the Lord

Scripture Readings

Some of us were baptized as infants and others as adults, but I doubt that anyone of us recalls a booming voice from the heavens telling us that we are beloved when we were baptized.  Today we celebrate the baptism of Jesus, where the Father announces to all His great love and blessings on Jesus.  As disciples of Jesus we receive this same outpouring at the time of our baptism, and therefore we can live in the knowledge that we are His beloved.  This awareness of our favor in the eyes of God provides us with the courage to go forth into the world not just to share His love, but to bring justice and peace to the world around us.

In today’s gospel, Jesus goes to the Jordan and is baptized by John. The heavens are “torn open” and the Spirit of God falls upon Him with the confirmation of God’s blessings and love in the words: “You are my beloved Son: with you I am well pleased.”  As I reflect on the life of Jesus, I wonder how many times He remembers this momentous event.  Although He is God’s Son, He is human and He is faced with many challenges, frustrations and suffering.  I imagine that this outpouring of the Spirit was a pivotal point in the life of Christ as He heads out into His ministry.  Knowing this connection and unity with the Father and the Spirit is where Jesus is grounded and where He finds His power and love.

The Father and Spirit work together with Jesus as He goes forth into the world.  In the second reading, Isaiah foretells how Christ will live out this “belovedness”.  He will bring forth justice to the nations, open the eyes of the blind, and be a light for the nations. He lives out His life as “God’s chosen one with whom he is pleased”, and with the power of the Spirit Jesus is able to bring this justice to earth.

As disciples of Jesus we are called to live as He lived.  Through the grace of our Baptism, we are reminded that the same words spoken over Jesus in the Jordan are spoken to us- we are also God’s beloved son/daughter and He is pleased with us.  He created us in His likeness and as His children He desires for us to live in the realization of our status of being His “beloved.”  Just like Jesus, we endure hardships, challenges and suffering in our lives.  If we could see our baptism as a pivotal event becoming fully aware of God’s love, we might not have the same anxiety and fear as we live our lives. 

Not only would we be grounded in His love, but filled with the Spirit we too are sent to bring justice to the world around us.  We are also God’s chosen ones, since He formed us and not only does He put His Spirit within us, but he will “grasp us by the hand.”  Every time I ponder this image of God holding my hand, I discover a great sense of peace and courage. God does not want us to go out alone, but He wants to be with us and in us and the core of who we are.

Coming to an understanding of our beloved status requires spending time in prayer. Jesus was listening for His Father when He heard Him speak.  We must have open ears and hearts to hear God speak to us. As we head into this new calendar year, consider making an effort to listen for God speaking to you whether in prayer, scripture, creation, or sacrament. Like Jesus, allow this message of love to empower us as we head out into our daily lives. Not only in these dark days of winter but throughout the year ahead, may each of us be “a light for the nations,” so we can bring God’s heaven here to earth.

Loving Father, You speak words of blessing and love to Jesus as you send Him forth to do Your work. Send down Your Spirit upon us, so we may hear and believe in Your love for us. As your servants, may we “bring forth justice to the nations” and be a light for all to see Your compassion and love.  We pray this through Christ our LORD. Amen.

- Marylynn Herchline