YOU ARE MY BELOVED SON; WITH YOU I AM WELL PLEASED
(A biblical reflection on THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD – Sunday, 10 January 2016)
Gospel Reading: Luke 3:15-16,21-22
First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11; Psalms: Psalm 104:1-4,24-25,27-30; Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14;3:4-7
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier that I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son; with Thee I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:15-16,21-22 RSV)
“Thou art My beloved Son; with Thee I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).
These words were heard at Jesus’ baptism, when He began His public ministry. They might more poignantly have been repeated at the end of that ministry, when Jesus “breathed His last” (Luke 23:46). The point is that throughout His life Jesus was beloved of the Father and pleased Him.
That is why not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well points to Jesus and looks to Him. When Peter first preached to Cornelius, he proclaimed Jesus’ lordship over all – His anointing with the Holy Spirit and with power (Acts 10:36-38). But long before Peter, the prophet Isaiah had eloquently pointed to the Messiah as God’s chosen one in whom He delighted (Isaiah 42:1).
We also need to look to Jesus, center our lives on Him, and learn who He is. Too often we center on ourselves, even in our spirituality, seeking to become better, more holy, more joyful. But the Father’s joy rested on Jesus; the Spirit’s joy is to teach us who Jesus is. Jesus is truly and fully human, and truly and fully divine. In His humanity, He is what we are to become – fully alive, fully open to God, fully realizing our potential as beings created in the image and likeness of God.
John the Baptist knew that Jesus was different, but it took the Holy Spirit to teach him that “this is the Son of God” (John 1:34). The disciples spent years with Him, only gradually realizing that what made Jesus so different from them in thought, word, and action. It was only after the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost that they were able to begin preaching who Jesus truly is.
As the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at His baptism, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will descend upon us anew, that He will deepen the revelation of Jesus as the beloved in whom the Father and the Holy Spirit delight.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, enroll us in the school of Christ so we may learn from Him. May we seek to diminish so that Christ my increase in us; and when our heavenly Father looks at us, may He see a people who have become like His Son, and declare Himself well pleased. Glory be to Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Jakarta, 7 January 2016
A Christian Pilgrim