Archive for the ‘Baptism of Jesus’ Category

He is Baptized for Us

January 8, 2022

Baptism of the Lord
By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

The Baptism of the Lord is a great event in the history of the Church because it is the first public manifestation of our Lord; the official revelation of Jesus as the Son of God to the world in the River Jordan by God the Father. John the Baptist was preaching and preparing in the wilderness and was baptizing all those who responded to his call of repentance. The purpose of his ministry of preaching and baptizing was to direct people towards Jesus who would baptize them with the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that Jesus came from Galilee to the River Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist. Baptism is a call for the purification of sins, but Jesus is the Holy one of Trinity He does not need any purification. Though He is Son of God, He subjects himself to be baptized by another man to teach us the great virtue of humility.

The first reading taken from the Book of Isaiah tells us that the promised Messiah would be God’s chosen Servant in whom the divine soul would delight. The Messiah would have the Spirit of God upon Him bringing forth justice to all the nations, not just God’s chosen people. As the Servant of God, Jesus’ mission is modest and gentle in nature. He operates by His example and works. He brings a message of hope and consolation to all God’s people. Christ, the Anointed One of God is with us to bring us healing. Most importantly, He is here to restore our peace. Isaiah says in this way: “Console my people, console them…here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him, the prize of his victory is here with him…” This is exactly the ministry for which Christ was anointed and he empowered the human race for the entire salvation of God’s plan.

In the second reading, St. Paul invites us to recall our own Baptism — the gift of the Father, Son and the Spirit. He reminds us that the Lord has come to give us salvation and he gives us through the sacrament of baptism: “God saved us by the cleansing water of baptism and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he poured over us through Jesus Christ our Savior.” Through His own baptism, Christ sanctified and opened the fountain of baptism for us. He also initiated our redemptive process.

Today, the baptism of Jesus gives us our own identity. It reminds us who we are and to whom we are sent. By Baptism we become sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, heirs of Heaven, and temples of the Holy Spirit. We are called to live as the children of God in thought, word and action. We are expected to lead a holy and transparent Christian life. The human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we belong to God who created us in his own image and likeness. Let us therefore grow and live in intimacy with God by personal and family prayers, by meditatively reading of the Word of God and fervently participating in the Holy Mass. Let us ask God to shower on us the divine graces to live out our baptismal life in a worthy manner. May the name of Jesus be glorified!

Who Conquers the World?

January 9, 2021

The Baptism of the Lord

I have a friend, Kathy, a former parishioner of mine now living in Michigan, whom I often call to converse about upcoming Sunday readings. She’s quite knowledgeable about the Scriptures and our Faith and, even now as she endures cancer, delights to discuss them. Talking with her always makes my homilies better. When we chatted this week I shared my hope, frustration, and challenge in preaching compellingly about the Baptism of the Lord. Virtually everyone who will encounter my homily is already baptized, a baptism they do not remember – they were baptized so young that they can’t remember any time in their lives when they were unbaptized. Getting people to appreciate having been baptized is like trying to get them excited about having once been born; or like getting an American to appreciate living their whole lives in a country where freedoms of religion, speech, and representative government are taken for granted. I didn’t know what message I was going to preach when I spoke with Kathy, but she encouraged me that God would give me something and promised to pray for me. Today I’d like to share with you some threads from other interesting conversations I’ve had this week and in the end I promise to tie their lessons together.

On Monday evening, my fortieth birthday, I spoke with my life’s longest friend. Josh is nine days older than me, we were in school together all the way from pre-K through college, and he grew up into a dynamic Christian businessman. Josh remarked that he is struck and bewildered by how much New Year’s matters to people – it’s far less big a deal for him than it seems to be for others. I likewise have memories of being underwhelmed by New Year’s Eve ever since I was a kid. Even though the ball that drops over Times Square is now covered with high-tech shimmering lights, the sight of that sphere’s slow descent still remains a disappointment to behold. A new year is just a change in number on our calendars and forms, a number whose only significance comes in reference to Jesus Christ. Maybe people like it in the way some of us have enjoyed watching a car’s mileage rollover to 100,000 on the odometer. Maybe people just like any excuse to party. But I think New Year’s appeal in popular culture owes greatly to the idea of a new time beginning, the start of a new chapter in our lives. Lots of people make New Years resolutions, typically related to health. They’re hoping for change, hoping this year will be different, yet their resolutions typically fail quickly because our human nature, by itself, is so very weak.

Thursday morning I did spiritual direction through Facebook for another past parishioner and friend of mine. I met Stephanie at my first priestly assignment, helped her become a Catholic, and today she is her parish’s Coordinator of Religious Education and Director of Youth Ministry in Neillsville. Stephanie’s family has an annual tradition of watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and this year she saw it twice. I asked her if she took away any new insights from that rich film and indeed she had. The first time George Bailey goes to Martini’s Bar it’s a calm and friendly establishment where people show concern about him. George quietly prays there, “Dear Father in Heaven… Show me the way,” leaves, meets Clarence, and returns to the bar again in a world where he was never born. The bar is called “Nick’s” now and like the rest of town it has become more crowded and less wholesome, rude and cruel. These scenes impressed on her anew how much one life well-lived can make an extraordinary difference to all the lives around it.

On Thursday afternoon I partook of spiritual direction myself through Zoom with Fr. Bill Dhein, the thoughtful Chancellor of our diocese who sometimes celebrates Masses here for us. Father and I were both drawn by the Spirit to this passage from today’s second reading from the 1st Letter of John:

“Whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

Who indeed conquers the world? If the rioters at the Capitol this week or the rioters from this summer had succeeded, if they had prevailed and conquered, would they find peace in this world? History suggests not. Violence and death would continue to accompany them. In today’s first reading, the Lord tells us through the Prophet Isaiah:

“My thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.”

Fr. Bill told me one of his admired spiritual heroes is St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta. She was in the world but not of the world, and in Jesus Christ she conquered the world through a holy power which transforms this world for the better. Today’s gospel says:

“[Jesus of Nazareth] was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”

Remember, Christian, that you have been baptized into Christ, the Holy Spirit rests on you, and the Father acknowledges you as his beloved child. Your human nature, by itself, is weak and frail, but you are clothed in Christ and ‘can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.’ Do you want to change yourself? Do you want to be a blessing to others? Do you want to change this world wonderfully for the better? Then ask God for his indispensable, gracious help; and also seek the support of Christian friends, for iron sharpens iron and coals stay hot when gathered.

As our culture becomes increasingly less Christian we can expect to see increasing examples of social decay and religious persecution. Just as you cannot remove the foundation of a house and expect its walls and ceiling to stand upright and level, so our nation will suffer in many ways from discarding its Christian faith. But when worse things come, do not fear and do not despair – ‘God works all things for the good of those who love him.’ Do not be afraid and do not give up. The good of this community depends on you and those around you. Who indeed is the victor over the world? Those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the children of God, whose faith shall conquer the world.

An Identity and a Mission

April 1, 2020

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year A

When St. John the Baptist sees Jesus coming toward him he declares, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” Why did John say that? How is Jesus like a lamb? Under the Old Covenant, animal sacrifices were offered for sins. The symbolism was that the living animal, often an unblemished male sheep, was dying in place of the sinner who offered it. This prefigured what was to come. Jesus Christ, like a flawless, obedient sheep, hears and follows his master’s voice, He does the Father’s will, and takes our place in the sacrifice which actually forgives sins. This is why Jesus is rightly called the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

John the Baptist goes on to say, “He is the one of whom I said, ‘A man is coming after me who ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.’” Indeed, Jesus, as the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, existed before the universe itself. Through Him all things were made, and the things that came to be pointed to and culminated in Him. For this reason, it is not so much that Jesus resembles the lambs of Old Covenant sacrifices, but rather that God establishes the ritual of lamb sacrifice for sins in order to point to Jesus and his ultimate sacrifice.

The story of the life of Jesus appears in the New Testament, but the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets about Him throughout the Old Testament. For example, our first reading from the Book of Isaiah written several centuries before Christ, is one of hundreds of passages which speak of Him. But before we return to that passage again, let’s review a little historical background.

We read in the Book of Genesis that Jacob was Abraham’s grandson. Jacob was renamed “Israel” by God and fathered twelve sons. From these twelve sons the “twelve tribes of Israel” descended. This is why the names “Jacob” and “Israel” are usually interchangeable, and may refer to one person or to many. In Isaiah, the prophet writes, “The Lord said to me: You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Now the Lord has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb…” To whom is God speaking in these lines? Who is the servant whom God formed from their beginning; the prophet himself, God’s faithful people, or Jesus Christ? There is truth in each of these interpretations, but this reading’s relevance to Jesus particularly shines forth. The prophesy continues:

It is too little, the Lord says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

Jesus is the one who brings light and salvation not only for the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but for all the nations on earth, to non-Jewish Gentiles like you and me through His one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. Another foreshadowing of Christ is seen in today’s psalm, written by King David one thousand years before Christ. Hear these words as if spoken from Jesus’ lips:

[Mere] sacrifice or offering you wished not, but ears open to obedience you gave me. [More of the former] burnt-offerings or sin-offerings you sought not; then said I, “Behold I come.”

In the written scroll it is prescribed [that is, it is foretold in the Scriptures.] For me to do your will, O my God, is my delight, and your law is within my heart!

I announced your justice in the vast assembly; I did not restrain my lips, as you, O Lord, know. I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. And he put a new song into my mouth, a hymn to our God.

I fully suspect the 40th Psalm had an original, personal meaning for King David when he authored it, and these words have been prayed by God’s faithful people in a personal way ever since, but these words especially apply to the person and mission of Christ. After preaching God’s word to vast assemblies, obedience to his mission led Jesus to His Passion. After crying out for His Father to save Him, and waiting, waiting three days in the tomb, Jesus’ resurrection has put a new song in his mouth, a new hymn of praise to the Father in which we all have a part.

As I mentioned in my homily last week, by baptism you are baptized into Christ. And by remaining connected to Jesus Christ through his sacraments, He remains in you. The prophecies of Scripture refer not only to the human authors, like Isaiah or David, and they refer not only to Jesus, these passages’ fullest fulfillment, but also to us, His Bride and His Body, the Church in her members, the New Israel which comes to us through the twelve Apostles of Jesus. Hear those words of the Lord from Isaiah again:

You are my servant, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Now the Lord has spoken… that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him.”

Israel had been scattered, whole tribes of Jacob were lost due to sin and its consequences, but God Ever-Faithful used Israel, perfected in his Son, to gather his people Israel back to Himself. He says to us:

You are my servant, O Church of God, through whom I show my glory. Now the Lord has spoken… that the People of God may be brought back to him and the Church gathered to him.

God has purpose for your life. A purpose found in Christ. A mission to be faithful and fruitful in Christ. Jesus is still working to save souls today and he desires to work though each of us in His Body, the Church.

The Holy Stream — Baptism of the Lord—Year A

January 13, 2020

When you think of the River Jordan, maybe you imagine something broad, vast, and impressive, like the mighty Mississippi or even the Chippewa River. But the Jordan River is a lot more like Duncan Creek. Ever heard of Duncan Creek? It’s not far from here. Duncan Creek flows out of the south end of Lake Como in Bloomer. You know the bridge between Dairy Queen and the post office? That bridge crosses over Duncan Creek. In terms of size and color, the Jordan River is much like Duncan Creek; small and muddy with shrubs and trees growing along its banks. But unlike the rivers around here in Wisconsin, which are numerous and flow though green and lush countryside, the Jordan is among the few rivers passing through its region’s mostly arid lands. This is the body of water Jesus chose to be baptized in. A humble river of life flowing through a desert. Joshua led God’s Old Covenant people into the earthly Promised Land through this river. And Jesus, the new Joshua, leads God’s New Covenant people to the true Promised Land through holy baptism.

Jesus did not need John’s baptism for himself. John the Baptist sensed this and tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus insists, so John relents, but what is the purpose of his baptism? Jesus is baptized not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, so that this most plentiful substance on the face of the earth could serve as the material for Christ’s gateway sacrament all throughout the world.

Jesus is baptized to allow us, through baptism, to be united to himself. His baptism foreshadows what comes in Christian baptism, what happened for you and me when we were baptized. The water, the decent of the Spirit, and the voice of the Father all signify effects of our first sacrament. Through baptism our souls were cleansed, the grace of the Holy Spirit was imparted to us, and we were acknowledged as a beloved children of God. We might take these things for granted: that sins can be forgiven, that the divine can dwell with us, that we can be more than mere servants, or slaves, or distant acquaintances to the transcendent God of the universe. That we can be treasured sons and daughters of God our Father. We need to remember and appreciate these things, for what goes unappreciated can be neglected to our loss.

The Jordan River flows about one hundred and fifty miles on the eastern border of Israel, south from the Sea of Galilee into the Dead Sea. These physical bodies of water contain a spiritual allegory. The Sea of Galilee is a large lake. Its fresh water, full of fish, pours out as the Jordan River. And this river, flowing through the arid desert, blesses its shores with life. But once these waters descent seven hundred vertical feet down into the Dead Sea, to the lowest place on earth, the water has no place else to go. So there the water sits, evaporating away in the heat, leaving its trace amounts of salt behind, causing the Dead Sea today to be an intensely salty sea in which no plants, nor fish, nor any other visible life lives.

The pure waters from above, received from the holy stream, bear no life in this recipient. Likewise, the sacraments offer grace from Heaven above, through Jesus Christ the stream of living water, but in the unrepentant soul they bear no life. Even a priest, baptized, confirmed, and ordained, saying the Mass every day, can be spiritually dead, causing spiritual harm to many, if he does not turn away from mortal sin. If you are in mortal sin, for God’s sake, for your sake, and for the sake of those around you, repent and be reconciled to God through his Sacrament of Confession. Jesus desires us to flow with his graces as a great blessing to others in this spiritually-arid world.

The words of Isaiah in our first reading point to Jesus, but because of your baptism you are in Christ. So Isaiah’s inspired words are spoken to every soul in a state of grace:

Thus says the Lord:
“You are my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit;
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you… a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement [and darkness.]”

You might not be called to cry out or shout, making your voice heard in the streets, breaking this and crushing that. But Jesus wants to use you as his powerful instrument to do transforming good in this world. Jesus is still quietly saving souls through his faithful ones, who receive his graces and pour them forth for others. Let this be you, for Him, and for many.

Renewing Your Baptismal Vows

January 11, 2015

On this feast day of our Lord’s baptism, let us renew the vows of our own baptisms:

Baptism of Christ, the Master of the Saint Bartholomew Altar, c. 1485/1500Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?  (“I do.”)

Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?

Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?

Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Stained Glass Symbols — The Dove

February 9, 2014

Holy Spirit Dove - Sacred Heart Catholic Church -  Wauzeka WIA Symbol of the Holy Spirit

From the Ark, at the time of the Flood, Noah released a dove three times to scout for land. The bird’s return with a fresh olive leaf in its beak signaled an end to the deadly judgment and the beginning of new life. Noah’s dove revealed that peace was restored between heaven and earth. When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John the Baptist, they saw the Holy Spirit descend in bodily form, like a dove, and land upon Christ. By receiving Christ’s baptism, the Holy Spirit comes to rest on us, pouring into us the new life and graces of the Trinity.

Baptize Him? — Baptism of the Lord—Year C

March 3, 2013

We can understand why God chose water as his sacramental instrument. Water is a rich symbol. Water cleans things. Baptism, likewise, cleanses from sin. Water is essential to life, all living creatures depend upon it. Baptism, likewise, gives us divine life. Water is ordinary but precious, like Jesus Christ incarnate. But why is Jesus baptized today? He has no sins and he already has divine life, so why does he seek baptism?

From ancient times, water has also been a symbol of death. Deep waters, such as the temperamental sea, can be dangerous. Going underwater is a symbol of death. Baptism, likewise, immerses us in Jesus’ death and his resurrection. Jesus was not born, baptized, nor sacrificed for his own sake, but for ours. He becomes one of us in life and death so that we may be united to him through these things.

When Jesus comes out of the water, God the Holy Spirit descends and rests upon him. God the Father speaks and declares from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” When you were baptized, you came out of the water with Jesus. The Holy Spirit came to rest upon you, and the Father has considered you his child ever since. Now, when the Father gazes on you, he sees his beloved Son. Therefore, call on the power of the Holy Spirit in your needs, and always find peaceful rest in the reality of your sonship.

Podemos entender por qué Dios escogió agua como su instrumento sacramental. El agua es un símbolo rico. El agua limpia las cosas. Bautismo, del mismo modo, limpia de pecado. El agua es esencial para la vida, todos los seres vivos dependen de ella. Bautismo, del mismo modo, nos da la vida divina. El agua es normal, pero precioso, del mismo modo Jesús Cristo encarnado. Pero ¿por qué es bautizado Jesús hoy? Él no tiene pecados y ya tiene la vida divina, así que ¿por qué busca el bautismo?

Desde la antigüedad, el agua ha sido también un símbolo de la muerte. Las aguas profundas, tales como el mar tempermental, pueden ser peligroso. El ir bajo el agua es un símbolo de la muerte. Bautismo, del mismo modo, nos sumerge en la muerte de Jesús y su resurrección. Jesús no nació, bautizado, ni sacrificado por su propio bien, sino para el nuestro. Se convierte en uno de nosotros en la vida y la muerte, para que podamos estar unidos a él a través de estas cosas.

Cuando Jesús sale del agua, Dios el Espíritu Santo desciende y se posa sobre él. Dios el Padre habla y declara desde el cielo: “Tú eres mi hijo, el predilecto; en ti me complazco.” Cuando usted fue bautizado, usted salió de la agua con Jesús. El Espíritu Santo se posó sobre ti, y el Padre ha considerado que su hijo desde entonces. Ahora, cuando el Padre mira en usted, ve a su amado Hijo en usted. Por lo tanto, llamamiento a las potencias del Espíritu Santo en sus necesidades, y siempre encontrar descanso tranquilo en la realidad de su filiación.

Fatima Rosary Reflections

May 31, 2010

We celebrate May as the month of Mary, but we gather this particular day because 93 years ago Mary appeared to three children outside a small village in Portugal named Fatima. We will now pray the rosary and I will share with you just some of this story of Mary, Our Lady of Fatima.

[Pray the usual introductory Rosary Prayers]

In the year before Mary appeared to them, Lucia age 10, and her cousins Francisco and Jacinta, ages eight and seven, were grazing their sheep in a field. A dazzlingly beautiful young man, seemingly made of light, appeared to them and identified himself as the Angel of Peace. He invited them to pray with Him, and taught them a simple prayer.  I will pray this prayer three times and I invite you to join with me.

“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love You! I beg pardon for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love You. Amen.”

In the 1st Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.” Jesus was not a sinner, He did not need baptism for himself, but He was baptized to become an advocate and intercessor for others. Likewise, let us pray as advocates and intercessors for all those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust, or do not love God throughout the world.

[Pray the First Luminous Mystery]

On another occasion, the Angel of Peace appeared before them holding a chalice in his hands. Above it was suspended a host from which drops of blood were falling into the chalice. The Angel left the chalice suspended in the air, prostrated himself before it, and taught the children this prayer:

“O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the most precious Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges and indifferences by which He is offended. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary I beg the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.”

In the 2nd Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana.” For them, Jesus changed water into wine. For us, He changes wine into His blood. Are we indifferent to this miracle in our midst, or does it really matter to us? Let us pray that the Eucharist would transform us.

[Pray the Second Luminous Mystery]

On May 13, 1917, after lunch on a clear blue day, the children were praying the rosary. Suddenly, they saw two bright flashes. They looked up and saw, in Lucia’s words, “a lady, clothed in white, brighter than the sun…”

The Lady smiled and said: “Do not be afraid, I will not harm you.” Lucia asked her where she came from. The Lady pointed to the sky and said: “I come from heaven.” Lucia asked what she wanted. She said, “I have come to ask you to come here for six months on the 13th day of the month, at this same hour.” They tried to keep it to themselves, word of the children’s encounter with the Heavenly Lady got out. Though they were met with the townspeople’s skepticism and mockery, the children would not deny what they had seen and heard.

In the 3rd Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.” Let us pray to be irresistibly led to proclaim what we have experienced in Christ.

[Pray the Third Luminous Mystery]

On July 13th, the incredibly beautiful Lady appeared to them again. Lucia asked her who she was, and for a miracle so everyone would believe. She answered, “Continue to come here every month. In October, I will tell you who I am and what I want, and I will perform a miracle for all to see and believe.” And the Lady taught them this prayer:

“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to Heaven,  especially those in most need of Thy Mercy.”

In the 4th Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Transfiguration.” Sometimes we look at other people and think that they can’t change what they are. The apostles thought like this, but Jesus opened their eyes with His Transfiguration. Let us pray for the grace of transformation; in our family members, in our friends, and especially among those in most need of God’s Mercy.

[Pray the Fourth Luminous Mystery]

At noon on the 13th of October, 1917, some 70,000 people were gathered in the field. With a flash of light the Lady appeared to the children, and Lucia, for the last time, asked her what she wanted. The Lady answered, “I want to tell you that a chapel is to be built here in my honor. I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day. The war is going to end, and the soldiers will soon return to their homes.” And the Blessed Virgin Mary urged the conversion of hearts, as she had many times before, “Do not offend the Lord our God any more, because He is already so much offended.”

What happened next was reported at the time in an anti-religious Portuguese newspaper, by a reporter who had previously written dismissively about the goings-on at Fatima:

“…One could see the immense multitude turn towards the sun, which appeared free from clouds and at its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse which was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting: “A miracle! A miracle!” Before the astonished eyes of the crowd… the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside all cosmic laws – the sun “danced” according to the typical expression of the people.”

In the 5th Luminous Mystery we encounter “Jesus’ Institution of the Eucharist.” What the masses saw in the heavens that day was a great miracle. But what we encounter at every Mass is an even greater wonder. Let us pray that we would always have the eyes to see it.

[Pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery, followed by the usual closing Rosary Prayers]

(Primary Source)

Encountering Jesus in Prayer — Baptism of the Lord—Year C

January 11, 2010

At Jesus’ baptism, the Father spoke to Him from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Today, our Father wants you to hear Him say to you, “You are my beloved child and with you I am well pleased.”

This may be hard for us to hear. Maybe we think to ourselves, “I’m certainly not Jesus.   How could God be well pleased with me? Our past and present sins of come to mind and we feel pained by guilt. In times of prayer and in our daily life we are burdened by the thought that we are not the person God wants us to be. We think, “If only I were better, if only I could be perfect, then I could live and pray like the saints and God would love me.” If we think like this, our thinking has it backwards.

It’s not that God decides to love the saints, or us, only after we have achieved holiness by our own incredible feats of strength, endurance and personal sacrifice. Here’s the secret to the saints: the knowledge of God’s love and pleasure toward them came to them first, the saints’ great holiness only followed. Saints are not self-made men and women. It is by accepting God’s embracing love for us that we’re empowered to live incredible lives of love. We live like saints if we live in the truth that God loves us already.

To bear this point out, I would like you to try a thought experiment.  (You may close your eyes if you think it will help.) Imagine if you were a completely perfect person, totally free from sin, and free from guilt and fear before Him. Now pray to the Father in heaven imagining you’re this perfect version of yourself.

If you’re like me, imagining this makes it much easier to approach Him, to love Him, to praise Him, to thank Him and to feel His love for you.

And now, still imagining you’re this perfect person, consider the day or the week ahead of you.  What kind of attitude do you feel towards your life?

Again, if you’re like me, you find it much easier to see the future not so much as a burden, but with a certain eager calm. You view your life as an great opportunity to serve and to love from out of the abundance of love that you feel.

It’s not just your imagination that makes you feel this way.  It is the Holy Spirit confirming a truth in you. And the truth is that when the Father looks at you He doesn’t see the unlovable wretch of your fears, He sees something much closer to this perfect person.  By our baptism into Christ, we are loved as God’s daughters and sons, but maybe we not living like the saints we so admire because we’re tripped up by fear and self-doubts, thinking that for us intimacy with God remains a thousand miles away. The Father wants you to be confident, peaceful, and joyful in His love for you. In this way of His, He will lead you out of sins which history proves that your own efforts alone cannot conquer. Compared to the self-imposed yoke of our own anxious strivings to holy, the way of accepting God’s love for us is easy and light, and it actually works. We will live like saints when we accept the truth that God loves us already.

The saints became saints by overflowing with God’s love for them, by receiving His acceptance, approval and pleasure. These are gifts which He always wanted to give them, and He would do the same for us, if only we would let Him. So when you pray the Our Father today do it as the Father’s beloved son or daughter. And whenever you pray, or in whatever you do, do it in the liberating and empowering truth: “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”