Monday, January 13, 2014

Receiving the grace of the Lord's Baptism

John "giving in" to "what must be done to
fulfill all righteousness."
Yesterday's Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord was for the liturgy what the event itself was for the Lord: a moment of transition from the "private life" of Christmas and Nazareth to the "public life" of ministry. We've shifted, overnight, from the Christmas season to Ordinary Time, the time when grace is manifest less in terms of guiding stars in the heavens and more in ways we can take for granted--and fail to recognize as grace.

In some ways, the way yesterday's Gospel ended teases us to ask questions about God's fatherhood: what kind of fatherhood are we talking about? If Jesus is the "beloved Son" in whom God is "well pleased," where are we? I can't speak about anyone else, but there is a whole lot in me that can't be all that "well pleasing" to God. And yet St Paul insists that we are "in Christ," grafted into the well-pleasing Son. God never sees me without seeing that Son "who loved me (me, by name, personally) and gave himself for me" (Gal. 2:20).

But wait! There's more!

I am kind of stuck seeing myself as I am in the here and now. (Sometimes I can be stuck with the way I was in the past, too.) But God sees me where I "am" in eternity: permanently and completely "conformed to the image of the Son" (Rom. 8:29). Looking "there," he really can and does say of me "in whom I am well pleased." He speaks (is speaking now!) with delight at the image of the Son in its "unique and unrepeatable" expression (to use an expression of Bl. John Paul II) in me; delight in what the Son's grace has done in me; delight at the unique and unrepeatable praise I alone can offer.

God sees the whole picture; the finished story, and he says, "You--yes, you--are my beloved, in whom I am well pleased." (In a way, it is the divine form of the virtue of hope!)

  • Pope Francis started a series of talks on Baptism! Read his talk from last week ("A Date to Remember") and look for more to come, each Wednesday.
  • Look up the date of your Baptism and find a way to celebrate it: how about doing something extra special each month on the recurrence of the date?

No comments: