Sunday, January 09, 2022

Jesus' baptism and your identity (Sunday homily)

 Today we recall when Jesus showed up 

on the banks of the Jordan River and asked to be baptized.

We might wonder, first: why did he do this, 

and second, why is this important to us? What does it mean?

John was baptizing people as an act of repentance. 

They were confessing their sins along the way.

So: they were, in a sense, going to confession.

The shocker is to see the Lord Jesus get in that line.

Jesus puts himself squarely with us, in our situation. 

He does not hesitate at all.

This is also about Jesus showing himself as the new Adam.

The first Adam rebelled and failed to keep God’s law, 

and that set the whole, sorry story of human history in motion. 

Here, Jesus does the exact opposite.

This Adam is obedient. He fully does his Father’s will. 

And, most astounding, Jesus accepts the punishment for sin 

that otherwise was due to Adam and the rest of us.

So, when Jesus came to be baptized, he accepted 

his vocation as the faithful Son, the new Adam, the Messiah.

That included the Cross.

Remember something else John said on this occasion:

“Behold the Lamb of God”!

I hear you saying, “Fine, but what does this have to do with ME?”

When you and I were baptized, we became part of Jesus, 

born again of water and the Holy Spirit. 

So, I ask you: will you respond to God as Jesus did?

Will you embrace the life you have been given?

Will you take up the Cross? Will you be a witness to Jesus?

Maybe you never gave much thought to your baptism. 

Think about it now. 

At a certain point, each of us must decide 

to make the commitment of baptism our own. 

So, in case it wasn’t clear, this is why I sprinkled you with Holy Water. 

And, in case you never realized it, 

when we recite the Creed in a moment, 

you and I are confirming our baptism.

Something else happens when we are baptized.

You and I become part of Jesus, and we gain God as our Father.

Saint Paul said we become “heirs of hope of eternal life.”

When Paul calls us “heirs,” that is no metaphor.

He means that literally.

Children not only inherit all the stuff their parents owned, 

they inherit all that their parents are.

When children are conceived and born, 

What do people say? “You have your mother’s eyes!”

“You look just like your daddy!”

And as we grow to adulthood, like it or not, we become a lot like them.

So, to be “heirs” with Jesus, means that when the Father said, 

"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,”

He didn’t only say it to Jesus. He said it to you and me, too!

That’s what the Father said – of you – when you were baptized.

It is what he says every time you and I go to confession.

Each of us has moments of doubt.

Maybe you are single and wondering, what does God have for me?

Are you called to be a priest or in religious life?

That seems so scary, and you may think, I’m not holy enough.

Or you are married

and you despair of ever being a good enough parent. 

Every mistake is always on your mind.

Perhaps you are a young person, and you hate being asked, 

“what are you going to do with your life?” Because you have no clue!

Let’s talk about how, in recent years, so many people are “coming out” 

and saying, “I’m gay,” or “I’m trans” and the like. 

So many of us are bewildered. We’re told, just say it’s great.

We react with jokes or just trying to wave it all away.

These developments are part of a much broader problem: 

more and more people simply do not know who they are. 

By that I mean: they are losing the thread of what it means 

to be human, as opposed to being just another animal.

They are losing the realization that they – we – are a child of God.

And by that, I mean, a God who relates to us 

and acts in our lives and wants you and I me to know him.

A lot of the anger and dislocation in our society is a product of this:

that people who were created to be loved, are starved for that love.

Without stable, secure, family love, they don’t know who they are.

Sooner or later, each of us will meet a family member or friend 

who says he or she can’t relate comfortably with the opposite sex.

They are so disoriented 

that they don’t know if they are male or female.

Don’t dismiss them. Embrace them! Walk with them. And tell them:

Jesus got in line with you! He takes up your cross with you!

The Holy Spirit came down on you!

And the Father says to you: “You are my beloved child. 

With you I am well pleased!”

1 comment:

rcg said...

So hopeful and strengthening. Thank you and bless you, Fr Fox.