Homily: Feast of the Bapstim of the Lord

My Beloved Son by Lars Justinen

You are my beloved: with you I am well pleased!

(Scriptures for today's liturgy)

Is there here a boy, a man, who would not find great joy
in hearing his father tell him,
“I love you son - I’m so pleased
with the man you’re becoming,
the man you’ve become!”

Is there here a girl, a woman, who would not find great joy
in hearing her mother say,
“I love you, my daughter, and I’m so pleased
with the woman you’re becoming,
the woman you’ve become!”

Any son or daughter would find joy in either parent
so openly expressing such love and acceptance and blessing...

But there are so many reasons why a mother or father
might fail to give such a blessing to a son or daughter…

And there are so many reasons why a daughter or son
might fail to hear, to receive such a blessing when it’s given…

There are so many reasons to explain
why children might grow up and grow old
wondering if their being, their very existence was blessed
by the ones who gave them life.

Somehow, I missed receiving my father’s blessing,
the blessing of a very good man,
- although I’m sure it was his desire to bestow it.

Still, for reasons perhaps to do as much with me as with him,
I missed receiving it...

So, I know what it’s like to grow up unsure of your relationship
with one who’s blessing is so important.

That blessing, a parent’s blessing,
is the greatest gift a father or mother can offer a child.
No beautiful home can provide the life-long shelter
a parent’s blessing offers…
No amount of toys or treats or trips can delight a child
more than knowing deep within
the joy a parent’s acceptance gives…
No education or trust fund can secure a child’s place in the world
more than the strength that comes of a parent’s love…

For some, this blessing finally comes not from father or mother
but from others who provide what parents did not or could not.

But this blessing is one that each of us needs, seeks and longs for
from our heart of hearts.
It is the longing to be loved by those whose love gave us our very life.
We not only long to be loved, we love to be loved.
We long and love to be pleasing to those who first held us in their arms:
we long to be held in their hearts…

And let us not suppose that Jesus was different in this regard.
Perhaps he waited until he was 30 years old to begin his ministry
because he was longing to know that he was his Father’s beloved,
that he was pleasing to his Father…

At his baptism here, his Father’s blessing:
drenches him like the waters of the Jordan;
pierces the clouds like the sun itself;
and descends on him like a dove of peace.
Then the Father's voice speaks the words every one of us longs to hear:
“You are my beloved: with you I am well pleased.”

As the Father spoke these words to his Son, Jesus,
so does God speak these words to each of us, his daughters and sons.

Every one of us is loved by God -not on account of our good deeds-
but because God created each of us that we might be loved.

And each of us is pleasing to God -not because we have not sinned-
but because God sees and knows in us our longing for his blessing,
even when our efforts to find acceptance
are selfish or misdirected.

And so it is that God invites us, his children, to this altar,
this table of blessing where saints and sinners gather
to be nourished by the Father’s love, shared with us
through, with and in our brother, Jesus.

In Christ, each of us is a beloved son, a daughter beloved…
In each of us our God takes delight - and is very well pleased.


  1. Thank you for this very powerful homily which says so much so eloquently. God Bless!

  2. Very thoughtful post Father. Thank you. Although I know my Father on earth loves me, it is difficult for me to sometimes believe in the love of the Heavenly Father, and then I worry that's a sin and then the circle begins. More rosaries....

  3. I feel like I am kind of the opposite of "shadowlands"-
    I know my Heavenly Father loves me (or, I trust and pray He does)-
    but my father on earth...
    well, I'm just not sure.
    I worry that's a sin as well.

  4. When I was I think about 18, I was given a letter by my mother. In it she expressed what a joy I had been to her. I remember that she stated "you will never know how much you have meant to me until you have a daughter of your own."

    I always felt loved by my parents, but having this put in writing by my mother was very special.



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