July 14, 2014
Dear brothers and sisters,
The good news today is found in Mark 1:9-11.
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.”
I have heard these words myself spoken by God to my heart. I don’t hear God’s silent voice all that often, probably because I’m not listening. This was the first time that I heard God’s voice clearly. Perhaps this was the first time that Jesus heard His voice clearly as well. My circumstances were completely different from Jesus’ situation, but the power of hearing that God loved me was a turning point in my life just as this was for Jesus. This was his commission to begin his ministry. Whereas, my commission was to begin living life with the knowledge of His enduring, unconditional love. That no matter what He was with me, loving me when I thought I was unlovable and felt rejected.
Franciscan priest Richard Rohr in his meditation yesterday gave me a different understanding of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. He wrote, “Jesus’ wounded body is an icon for what we are all doing to one another and to the world. Jesus’ resurrected body is an icon of God’s response to our crucifixions. The two images contain the whole message of the Gospel.”
Today’s reading reminds me that my awareness of God begins and ends with His love for me. Not just my awareness, my consciousness of Him, but my faith and life in Him all begin and end with His love for me — unmerited, unearned but given freely without restraints and conditions. My wounds and His response by lifting me up through His love is the whole message of the gospel, the good news for me, as Rohr states so simply.
Jesus’ baptism wasn’t about repentance and forgiveness of sins. It was about the audible, unmistakable blessing of God’s love providing Jesus the strength, the courage, the wisdom, and the determination to embark on his mission, to begin his life of service to his Father and to his brothers and sisters, all God’s people. It calls to mind yesterday’s reading from Isaiah. “For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.” My life begins with God’s love and is fulfilled in doing His will, loving His people. When I do I know that He is well pleased, but even when I don’t I know that He still loves me just as much. That is indeed good news!