God’s Label of us

Homily Recording on the Way. Hopefully by Friday

As a part of my formation in the seminary, I would get evaluated. Every year I would have an evaluation that I would fill out myself, and the faculty and staff too would fill out. Part of this included meeting with what we call a formation advisor. He was someone I would meet with about once a month to talk about how things were going in the seminary and how I was improving. I remember something that seemingly came up in every evaluation was the fact that I was socially awkward. They weren’t trying to be mean or anything. They just wanted me to work on being more sociably presentable. However, what I let happen was that term, that judgment to be a label for myself. Instead of saying, sometimes, I act in a socially awkward way. Instead, it was I’m socially awkward like it was a title or something I’ve always dealt with. Of course, as I hope we all know, that isn’t who I am, preferably something I sometimes deal with in my life.

For me, the Gospel challenges this idea and this label. Who are we in his eyes? We are his beloved Son or his beloved daughter, in whom he is well pleased. I know this passage speaks this title of Jesus, but I believe God speaks this to all of us as we are all children of God and his beloved sons and daughters.

We hear about the baptism of our Lord in the Gospel. Jesus approaches John and asks him to be baptized. We may think like John the Baptist did and say, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” We all struggle with sin and need repentance and forgiveness. Jesus was asking for a baptism of repentance given to him by John. Why, though, would Jesus need to be baptized as Jesus doesn’t sin as he is God.

As I best understand it, Jesus wanted to take the place of sinners and take on our sin so that he could die for us and forgive our sins. The baptism which is in a way a dying and raising again foreshadows what Jesus will do on the cross. He will die on the cross and raise again from the dead. Brining us repentance and saving us from the dead.

What happens next is truly amazing. The heavens open and the Holy Spirit appears as a dove coming down from heaven. And God, the father says about his son. “this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” The baptism of the Lord is a way for Jesus to accept the will that his father has for him and him diving into the water to be baptized, a sign of that acceptance of his death on the cross. I, too, believe that the Father is acknowledging his acceptance of the cross in the words that he says to those gathered around. This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Jesus is taking on this mission, and the Father supports him in that mission.

I believe these words may mean something else for our Lord as well. We know he is God. However, he, too, is a human being and probably struggles with human emotions as well. We see Jesus cry in the scriptures, needing his rest from his overwhelming lifestyle and so many other things. I’m sure these words gave Jesus some comfort and some encouragement.

Finally, I, too, believe that in these words, we see the Lord’s true identity. He is the Son of God, not just a son of God by adoption but the only begotten Son of God. What a powerful way for Jesus’ identity to be revealed to those who witnessed his baptism.

Again I believe we can use this story and this passage to look at our own identity. We certainly are not the only begotten son or daughter of God. But by our baptisms, we have become his children, and by our baptism, we have become beloved sons and daughters of God. I believe that God wants to say these same words he said to Jesus to all of us. Especially if we are struggling in life. We are not our sins, and we are not our shortcomings. Instead, we are a beloved child of God. I too believe that God is pleased in all of us. Yes we fall into sin, yes we don’t always do the will of God. But I guess when God looks on us, he sees us in love, he sees us as his beloved creation. I believe because of this. He is pleased with us. So, I encourage all of us to spend some time in prayer with this passage. Not just to get an understanding of it, but to enter the passage and get to know it as a beloved son or daughter of God. I hope we can all hear God the Father say to us. “This is my beloved son, this is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased!”

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