|Baptism of Christ by Dave Zelenka 2005|
In 2002, Baptist pastor, Rick Warren published his book, The Purpose Driven Life. In the first year of its publication, there were over 11 million copies sold. Within 4 years there were over 30 million copies sold and it became an international best seller translated into more than 50 languages. Why was this book so popular? Could it be that in today’s pop culture and social networking the messages that come to us are - we don’t have enough, we are not good enough, and we are not enough – which leaves people “wobbly within” and anxious to have someone help them understand God’s purpose and path for their lives? Or could it just be that we fear to slow down, to become quieted, and still - attempting to avoid pondering the questions that everyone eventually faces in life, which are: Why am I here? What is my purpose?
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus has been walking around with the same questions – yet something happened to Jesus when he was baptized. He was changed – charged – transformed! Something spectacular happened – the heavens opened, the Spirit came upon him, and there was cloud-talk with a voice that said, “You are my beloved. With you I am well pleased.” Nothing like high drama and special effects to get our attention! With these intimate and consoling words, Jesus was changed forever and charged with the energy of the Spirit as he came up from the waters of the Jordan His purpose was revealed. His mission was announced. No discernment or searching needed. All he need do in his short earthly life is to become it – his mission, his purpose!! As John Dear writes: “God does not mince words or make small talk. God gets right to the heart of the matter.”
As baptized followers of Jesus, we, too, stand in readiness, in vulnerability, in authenticity as we hear in our depths that God says to each one of us, “You are my beloved.” We, too, are charged by the Spirit to claim, accept, honor, and embrace who we are – for we are beloved!
This being beloved carries personal, spiritual, social, interpersonal, and global implications. If we are willing to take this seriously, it means that we as God’s beloved have to be open to the awesome and wonderful news that every other human being in the world is also a beloved daughter or son of God – it means that we are all one; we are all chosen; we are all called to bring sight to the blind, release to those held captive, light to those who wander in darkness, and justice to those who are oppressed.
As followers of Jesus, we share in his baptism, his ministry, his death and resurrection. It means that just as Jesus heard the cloud-talk-affirmation, “You are my beloved,” God says to each of us, “You are my beloved.” God is loving us, affirming us; God is delighting in us, and calling all of us into our true Self, and to our true purpose.