Being beloved – a foundational message
Readings: Is 40,1-5.9-11; Ps 104,1-2.3-4.24-25.27-28.29-30; Ti 2, 11-14.3,4-7; Lk 3, 15-16.21-22
The word of God for us on the Feast of the Lord’s baptism presents to us foundational message of being beloved by God. What God says about His only begotten Son is what He says about each one of us. We ought to listen to that life-giving word: You are a beloved son/daughter of God, chosen and favoured! This is the positive foundation with which we are to begin our spiritual journeys.
God has delight in His people. He puts an end to times of cry and warfare. He comforts His people. Through the prophet Isaiah, God intends to speak tenderly to Jerusalem. There is a word which God wishes to whisper to each one of us: „You are precious in my eyes and I love you“ (Is 43, 4). This is the word that every human being needs in order to have lasting meaning in life. When spoken to those whose lives seem to be in ruins, it brings about restoration. Whoever has heard it becomes a herald of „good tidings“ (first reading). Love manifests itself among the beloved. It is love that moves God to come close to us and to give us a shepherd who feeds us (his flock) and gathers us, carries us in his bosom (Is 40, 11).
Before starting his public ministry, Jesus manifests His solidarity with the sinful humanity by allowing Himself be baptised (immersed) by John. Jesus was thirty years old at His baptism. Before that He has not made any proclamation.The unique Son of God had to hear it with his own ears: „You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased“. Then, he has plenty to say for the next three years, because he has finally found his own soul, his own identity, and his own life’s purpose. He is so rooted in His identity as the beloved Son of God that not even the tempter could ever shake Him. That was the word He referred to when He said: „Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God“ (Mt 4,4). At His baptism the heavens were opened. Every baptised has this heavenly perspective opened so that God can claim him/her as a beloved son/daughter. This is very good for the spiritual journeys we make in search for God and for our true selves. We don’t seek God out of fear or guilt or shame. No. We are just attracted by His goodness. Baptism takes away Original Sin by immersing into a reality that is greater than us, that is, the mystery of the Trinity. If we are children of God, then we are also members of a community that understands itself as the body of Christ (Church). Baptism is, thus, the doorway to the life of grace we encounter in the Sacraments of the Church.
Just like Jesus, until we know we’re a beloved son or beloved daughter or even just beloved, we don’t have anything to say. We’re so filled with self-doubt that we have no good news for the world. If we’ve never had anyone believe in us, take delight in us, affirm us, call us beloved, we don’t have anywhere to begin. Beginning as „beloved“ sets us all on a firm foundation. If we dont have this foundation we risk spending the rest of our lives creating definitions of who we are by hiding behind the titles, job descriptions that we acquire in the course of life. The word „you are my beloved“ has to come from someone greater than us. The primary responsibility of parents is to communicate to their child that they are a beloved, eternally - existing child of God. This is a dignity that can never be taken away.
When we are baptised, we start a journey of discipleship on which the grace of God forms us continuously. This grace „trains“ us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions (second reading). We are invited to allow the grace of God have an impact on our lives by living sober, upright and godly lives in this world. Jesus, whom we follow, reminds us that we are not of the world even if we live in the world (Jn 15,19 and Jn 17,14-16). In Jesus Christ we are all God’s „favorites“. We have an identity which we should never forfeit for anything in the world. As missionary disciples, we ought to take to heart St. Paul’s word: „Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasant and perfect:“ (Rm 12,2). May the celebration of the Feast of the Lord’s baptism reenkidle in us the grace of our own baptism so that as anointed priests, kings and prophets we may do what pleases God! Let us replicate and resound the message that initiates and supports everything that is good: „You are beloved children of God!“