By Fr. Mike Boutin
You are my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. (Luke 3:21)
Watch this great dramatization of Luke's version of the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. You really can find everything on YouTube, can't you?!
Imagine what it must have been like for Jesus on that day in the Jordan River: the sun was shining, the shore was crowded with people, and all to hear John preach.
John was an interesting character: half lunatic, half prophet... wild-eyed, passionate, crazy clothes, and even crazier diet. But he could preach the truth and get people to listen and change their lives. Jesus went that day because he wanted to hear him preach...he wanted to do what all good Jews did. So He went... and listened... and prayed...
He waited in the line snaking toward John standing there in the water... he prayed... he sang... he spoke with the family from Nazareth standing in front of him. They knew some of the same people... his best friend growing up lived close to where this family lived... he waited in the line, eager and anxious at the same time. The sun was hot, with barely a breeze, but the water lapping at his ankles cooled him off as he waited for the Baptist...
He could see John ahead of him... praying with each person, plunging them into the water... and he started to feel nervous. What might happen? What exactly did all this mean?
Then it happened. He was kneeling in the water and as John prayed, Jesus looked up to heaven to pray with him. He spotted a beautiful dove soaring in the clouds... and then he ducked! It was going to hit him... and then, amazingly, it just stopped over his head, like a feather suspended in mid-air. And he heard a voice, everyone heard a voice: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased."
"Who was that? What does it mean? How can I be the beloved Son of God? How can God be pleased in me? What have I done? What do I still need to do to respond to that amazing love?"
When you were baptized, the heavens opened and God said to the whole world: "You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased." Now the struggle is just to let that reality wash over you. Stop hearing the old tapes about "you're too old... too fat... not pretty enough... not smart enough.... not wealthy enough... simply not good enough" and instead, hear God say to you, "You are my beloved in whom I am well pleased."
Then, like Jesus, begin to answer this question: "What do I still need to do to respond to that amazing love?" The world needs that answer....
Father Mike Boutin is the co-pastor of the Church of the Blessed Sacrament, Walpole, MA, and travels widely, leading pilgrimages throughout the world to various Catholic religious sites. He is a frequent speaker on liturgy, music, spirituality, and pastoral ministry.
1/11/2010 5:00:00 AM