Sunday, January 12, 2020

Baptism of the Lord A

The heavens are opened with the coming of the Son of God.  We do not exist only on the horizontal plane, where the journey from birth to death ends in nothing.

With unspeakable humility the Creator has entered into, become one of his creatures, changing everything. We come from God. We are going to God. Through, with, in Him we belong to one another.

The Spirit of God, descending like a dove comes down on Jesus. In the Song of Songs the soul in love moans like a dove over its exile from God. In the psalms the soul longs to fly away like a dove to be safe with God.

In Genesis a dove, a pure, innocent messenger from another world, returns to the ark with an olive branch in its beak—a sign from God of new life and forgiveness.

Jesus comes to the Jordan to offer himself to the Father, to accept the Baptism of John, embracing his destiny, choosing to live out, with all the consequences, the relationship at the center of his life, at the origin of his very being.

The willing cooperation of his humanity with the calling of the Father is Jesus’ vocation. It is the way God’s reign of compassion, communion, and solidarity breaks into the world.

God calls each of us to integrate our particular, peculiar heredity, ethnic roots, family history, intellect, and sexuality so that our lives will be patterned on and participate in the life of Christ.

Our willing cooperation, our ratifying as adults the vocation of our own Baptism is how God’s reign continues to enter the world. Catholicism is an adult enterprise.

Jesus does not beg us to like him. He attracts us to follow him.  No one takes his life; he freely lays it down. He will denounce self-serving religiosity and boldly reach out to the alienated and outcast.

Following Christ requires us to exercise and strengthen our human freedom in order to live God’s life in this world. Simon Weil:

I saw that the carrying out of a vocation differed from the actions dictated by reason or inclination in that it was due to an impulse of an essentially and manifestly different order; and not to follow such an impulse when it made itself felt, even if it demanded impossibilities, seemed to me the greatest of all ills.  Hence my conception of obedience.

Adult faith requires self-discipline fueled by love so that I can face my cowardice, self-pity, and bitterness—so that I can make sacrifices, bear humiliations, and live with ambiguity because, like Jesus, I trust the Father to make them bear fruit.

Like Jesus, I have come from God and I am going to God. A Dominican has written:

God has become man…in the sense that he has a personal history, a real biography which can make sense of our individual histories and biographies.  Being on the way, being uncertain, not knowing, living with ambiguity, striving to find out what we should do and be, does not mean that we are at a distance from God: this too is part of our humanity, which is now forever with God and in God.[i]

When obedient love draws Jesus to accept in the name of us all what it means to be fallenand human, the heavens are opened. God speaks to each of us: This is my beloved daughter, my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.

[i] Preston, Goeffrey. God’s Way to be Human. NY: Paulist, 1978. p.36.


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