By Fr. Simione Volavola, MSC (St. John the Baptist Parish-Ottosville, PA)  

Dear brothers and sisters,

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)

Our parents loved us all dearly and uniquely. I remember growing up how I used to pity myself in moments of sadness and wonder if I was truly my parent’s child or was I adopted. I used to doubt my biological connection to my parents especially after being corrected and punished for my misdeeds. In her anger, my mother would at times utter words like, “I don’t know who he takes after.” Growing up, I am discovering that this is a common experience among many people.

Today, we remember with celebration, the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. We celebrate today the mystery of the Father’s love for us, His sinful children of fallen humanity. Today we celebrate how in His very own Son, He immerses Himself into our fallenness, into the sinfulness and impurity of mortal and fleshly existence. Today we celebrate how our Father, through the Baptism of His own Son, baptizes Himself with our own misdeeds, wickedness, and depravity. Today we see the extent of His infinite love for us His lost children in the entry of the Holy Son of God into our unholy lives and uttering His eternal Word of Love to Christ and in Christ, to us, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Let us not forget these comforting words of the Father to us through Christ, “You are mine. You are my child. With you I am well pleased.”

These words are not mere sounds coming forth from the mouth of the Father. They are expressions of the living Person of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Son in bodily form and through the Son taking residence also in our lowly human hearts. And just as the baptism inaugurated our Lord Jesus’ public ministry and journey to the Father through Calvary, so does our baptism begin the same journey for us.

Today we pause and ask ourselves, “Where are we in that journey to the Father? Are we closer to Him? Are we faring well in our public ministry as servants in the family, in our society, in our church?” When we are honest, we will see ourselves faltering many times along the way to the Father. As parents and leaders, we do not always take after our Father in our approach to our fallen and straying children and in our anger make them feel like they are not our children, in whom we are well pleased.

Perhaps that is because we forget that we ourselves are our Father’s child, and that through Jesus, He is always well pleased with us, in spite of our faults and misdeeds. Perhaps we lack that confidence to consistently open ourselves up to that unwavering love the Father has for us and to allow Him through Jesus’ sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist to raise us up from the depths of the waters of our sin and death and to raise us up to Himself.

“On this Feast Day Lord, let us experience more deeply the reality of those comforting words of the Holy Spirit You indelibly sealed our souls with, ‘You are my child; with you I am well pleased.’”

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