January 10, 2021
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and 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.”
In today’s Gospel, I see Jesus about as human as I’ve ever recalled seeing Him. He’s coming to John to be baptized. I think, honestly, I really can relate to Him today. This is the one time I think I can say, “I know what He’s thinking. I know what He’s feeling.”
Because I was raised on a farm up in East Texas. And on that farm, there were chores. My Dad, for some odd reason, decided that those chores were going to be my responsibility. So, we had a little tension there, as I was growing up – my Dad telling me “This is what I want you to do, this is how I want you to do it”, and me going “Really and truly I’m not interested in that, I’d rather just go do whatever I want to do.”
But the amazing thing is, over the years, as I began to get better and better at those chores, my Dad would affirm what I was doing. He would affirm that fact that I was doing it better than what I had done it before, and I was becoming more and more the man that he wanted to send out into the world. As I did that, as I began to get better and better, I became dependent upon my Dad’s affirmation. I needed him to look at me and smile like, “Hey. I’m proud of you!” I needed him to touch me on the shoulder and just squeeze, so that I knew I had done a good job. And every time that he affirmed me, I tried harder the next time I did that chore.
But all of this is happening in East Texas on a farm, miles away from our nearest neighbors. Nobody had seen any of this. Nobody knew me. That’s the reason I feel like I can relate to Jesus better today. Because we know that He was born in a manger, that He had Kings bring Him presents. We know that Joseph, his earthly father, took Him to Egypt with Mary so that they could avoid Herod and the killing of the Holy Innocents. Some time He came back because at 12 He was left at the Temple and they found Him teaching the priests. But other than that, we don’t really know anything that was happening.
I learned a lot. All those chores and everything that nobody knew that I was doing, but that was making me into something that my father wanted me to be.
Today, we see Jesus show up from the shores of Galilee. And He comes to John and tells John that He wants to be baptized. Now, John has it revealed to him about the One Who Has Been Promised, so he knows He’s coming. And he recognizes that in Jesus. So, his question to Jesus is, “Why am I baptizing you? You should be baptizing me.” And Jesus says, “Let it be done because it is necessary.” Because Jesus is establishing one of the most important sacraments that He is going to leave for us, and that is Baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
It shook John so bad, that John began to question himself about whether or not Jesus was The One, so he sent his disciples later to ask the question.
Now we know what’s going to happen after this. We’re going to be going into the Lenten Season here before long and then into Easter. We know that Jesus is driven into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights. He’s there being tempted by the devil himself. Not demons. No, the devil himself comes. And he tempts Jesus. And, of course, Jesus is starving. He tempts Him with food. He tempts Him with being king over all the world. And yet, Jesus denies all of that. Jesus is now becoming more familiar, He’s beginning to integrate His humanity, which is what has been happening during His time that we don’t know about. He had to fall, scrape His knee and find out it hurts. He had to pick something up that was hot and realize that it burned. That was His humanity – learning to be human.
But He is also divine. He is FULLY human. He is FULLY divine. He’s got to integrate that. And that’s what’s happening. He’s got the human thing down. That time in the desert, He becomes more and more aware of WHO He is. Why? Because when He came up out of that water, what do they say happened? The Heavens were torn. A dove descended upon Him. That was the Holy Spirit. And His Father said, “You are my Son. In You, I am well pleased.” Affirmation. His Father affirmed Him as He’s going into a very different part of His life. Just as my Father affirmed me as I was growing into a young man.
We know after He comes back from the desert, where does He go? He goes back to the shores of Galilee, and He picks his first 4 disciples – Peter, Andrew, James and John. And then His ministry just takes off. But notice He picked His first 4 disciples.
But, brothers and sisters, and all of you who are joining us on live stream today, as we sit here, as we are learning, we are disciples. We have to have a teacher. We are disciples as we take in information. Jesus was going to be teaching these guys, so they were his disciples first.
Now, we know, He sends the 70 (or 72 – there’s a little bit of an argument there), but He sends them and then He sends the 12. They are apostles. We are disciples but we should always be striving to become apostles because apostles are messengers. What you learn here, when you hear the Scripture, when you hear the preaching, what you learn here is discipleship.
But that discipleship isn’t meant to stay in this space, this Holy Place. It is meant to go out. And that’s what apostle means – messenger.
As we strive to become apostles, we have to figure out how do we do that. Well, for one thing, we need our pastor to be affirming for us. I can tell you, nobody around I know works harder to make apostles than Father Pat. But what we have to do, is WE have to affirm those who are going out. Because its okay to sit in here because I’m not going to sit here and tell you what a rotten person you are or anything like that. We’re family. We love each other. But when you go out there, it’s not all love. It’s not all flowers. Out there, you’re going to be told “no”. You’re going to be ostracized. You’re going to have people call you names. And so, we have to be strong. And how do we become strong? By our family, here, praying for us, affirming us in what we’re doing is the right thing.
So, as you leave here today, remember, my Dad affirmed me, and that made me into who I am today. God affirmed Jesus and sent Him to become the greatest of all religious figures in all history. Imagine, as a family, affirming each other to the point where we become the greatest.
At least that’s what I heard Him say…