Today’s post is another wise reflection from Fr. Michael Schleupner. The theme of this week is the baptism of Jesus and his post shares the significance of this moment from scripture. Let’s take a moment to learn and to reflect on our baptism or the possibility of baptism if we haven’t been baptized.
Jesus’ Baptism/Our Baptism
The baptism of Jesus is an important moment in his life. It marks the beginning of his public ministry. He has grown up, left home, and now begins his work of teaching, healing, and proclaiming the kingdom of God. Jesus’ baptism is also significant for us. It opens up the richness and impact of our own baptism.
“You Are My Beloved Son”
First, the passage says that a voice comes from the heavens: “You are my beloved Son.” The voice seems to say that Jesus is God’s Son in a special way. He is the Son of God.
In a similar way, those same words are intended for us in our baptism. “You are my beloved daughter. You are my beloved son.” With these words, baptism states God’s unconditional love for us. This may sound so simple, but I am afraid that in practice, we may forget it or believe differently.
One of our Catholic authors says: “We don’t have to earn God’s love; we just have to accept it.” That’s the impact of these words: “You are my beloved daughter. You are my beloved son.” This means that no matter what we have done, we are still beloved to God. Maybe we, as children, have told a lie to our parents, or we, as adults. have been unfaithful to our life commitment.
No matter what, we can be forgiven and restored if we want it – that’s all it takes. No matter what we have done, we are still beloved to God. And, no matter what has been done to us, we are still God’s beloved. Maybe we were put down by a parent, teacher, or coach and made to feel less than others. Maybe we got repeated messages that we didn’t fit in as a teen. Or maybe we have been subject to sexual abuse or domestic violence.
These and other life experiences can tear us down and lead to self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness. Well, no matter what’s been done to us, we are still God’s beloved.
Our being aware of this can be the foundation for healing our self-esteem and re-building our sense of self-worth. All of this is wrapped up in the gift of our baptism.
The Heavens Were Torn Open
There is one more thing about Jesus’ baptism and our own baptism that I want to highlight. The passage says that “the heavens were torn open.” The symbolism or significance of this is that there is no longer a separation between heaven and earth, between God and us. God is present in Jesus, and through Jesus, God is present to us and in us. This is what baptism proclaims and activates.
And this is why Jesus is so central and pivotal to our faith. Because of this, I recommend that the gospels must be at the center of our personal spirituality and prayer life. The gospels are the Good News – that’s what the word Gospel means. They are the Good News of Jesus and his saving presence.
This is why we stand at Mass for the reading of the gospel as opposed to sitting for the other two readings. We honor the gospel as the summit, the high point, the apex of God’s gift of himself to us.
So, whatever kind of personal prayer you do is fine. I am sure it is good. But, it is important that we read some of the gospel as part of our regular prayer – at least once a week, preferably every day. Our spirituality and prayer life are lacking without this.
So, if you don’t have a Bible, buy one or even download one on your Smartphone or computer. Make the reading of a passage from the gospels part of your personal prayer life. It will nourish our faith and help us to grow in our relationship with God. It will bring us more and more alive as baptized persons – as God’s beloved sons and daughters.
~`Fr. Michael Schleupner