Homily for January 11

Image source
Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Just last week we celebrated the Epiphany
with the story of the magi searching for Jesus and finding him.
Epiphany comes from a Greek word, which means
to appear, to make manifest, to show, to disclose.

Of course, Christmas, too, was an epiphany:
a revelation of God’s desire to be with us, to dwell among us,
as one like us.

And today’s feast, remembering the Lord’s baptism
is a third powerful epiphany
with the Spirit descending upon Jesus
and that voice from the heavens confirming,
You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.

Can you and I imagine, even begin to imagine,
what that experience was for Jesus?
I believe we can…

Is there any experience more universally common to everyone
than the desire to be loved.
Who among us doesn’t want to know: 
I’m accepted.  I’m validated.  I’m treasured. 
I am someone’s delight.
I am loved.
Who doesn’t want to hear these words:
You are my beloved.  You are mine and I am yours.

In fact, the desire to be loved, the desire to know that I am loved,
is part of my human nature,
is part of how I am made,
is part of how God made me – and you.
I am made to be loved – and to love in return.

Nothing more and nothing less than just this
is what’s happening for Jesus in the story of his baptism.
His Father’s love for him is revealed,
is disclosed to him and for us,
precisely because the One who loves Jesus
loves you and me as well - without exception.

You might remember I was on retreat
back in the first week of December.
Early on in the week, my retreat director suggested I reflect on
just this gospel passage, the one we just heard,
and on God’s love for me
and from that reflection came a short prayer
which became something of a mantra for my whole week.

And this was my prayer:
Father, whatever I’ve done;  whatever my troubles today;
whatever tomorrow may bring:  you love me as I am
and nothing’s greater than your love.   

(Listen again…)

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you I prayed those words
as many as 300 times or more over the course of my week’s retreat.
The repetition was partly because of the comfort I found in those words
and partly because those words aren’t easy for me to believe.
Especially the part, You love me as I am...

It’s so easy to think, to believe,
Well, God would love me if I’d only…
Or: God will love me when I finally…  
Or: God might love me if A, or B, or C...
But the truth is: God loves me as I am.

God’s not waiting for me to “shape up”
or “clean up my act” before he loves me.
God’s not holding back his love until I make some change in my life.
God’s love for me isn’t on hold until I do X, Y or Z.
God loves me: As. I. Am.

No, God does not love my sins -- but God loves me even in my sins.
The Cross of Jesus is proof positive of that. 
St. Paul wrote to the Romans:
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly
God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners
Christ died for us
(Romans 5:5)

While we were still sinners… 
And what is our sin?
At the heart of every sin is our
- looking for love in all the wrong places,
- looking for love in things, not in others;
- and looking for love in relationships where we do not belong.

But even while we pursue these dead-ends: 
God is pursuing us –and- God loves us.
Whatever my past, whatever my present troubles,
whatever may come my way:
no problem or worry, fear or anxiety is greater
than the love God has for me.

The mercy of God’s love for me heals my past.
The strength of God’s love for me will get me through this day.
The promise of God’s love for me is greater
than any problem my future might hold.

Lord, whatever I’ve done; whatever my troubles today;
whatever tomorrow may bring:  you love me as I am
and nothing’s greater than your love.

Today’s feast brings us far from the warmth of the manger scene
to the brink, the depths of the waters of baptism.
This feast calls us to stand in the Jordan with Christ
and hear the Father say to each of us:
You are my beloved… I love you as you are.

If you still doubt that voice and its word or doubt that it’s meant for you,
then do not doubt the blessed assurance of this table
on which is laid the love for which we all hunger and thirst:
God’s love for us in Jesus,
the gift of Christ’s love for us on the Cross,
now offered to us in the Eucharist.

Lord, whatever I’ve done; whatever my troubles today;
whatever tomorrow may bring: 
you love me as I am
and nothing’s greater than your love.


Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please THINK before you write
and PRAY before you think!