Baptism of the Lord 2016

     Maybe it’s because I’m getting old, but to say I’m not the biggest fan of current pop music, would be an understatement. Yet unfortunately for me, pop music is so ingrained in our culture it is simply impossible to avoid it.  No matter how hard I try, it is impossible to avoid Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber. Since I can’t run away from today’s greatest hits, I’ve found myself wondering what it is about today’s pop artists that brings young people to tears and the edge of hysteria.  Listening to their lyrics I have come to realize that almost all of them revolve around love.  These modern songs touch so many of us so deeply because they tap into a deep longing inside each and every one of us that wants to love and wants to be loved. The irony is these songs only tell us about a view of love, while doing absolutely nothing to actually satisfy that inner desire, but the good news is there are no lonely girls and every human person has his or her own love story.

     While I really don’t like sappy love stories in today’s gospel we hear the greatest love story ever sung, a love song that I could sit and listen to all day. After Jesus was baptized the heavens opened and the Father proclaimed “you are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” My friends, that same statement was made about each of us at our baptism. At our baptism original sin was washed from our souls and we were adopted as sons and daughters of God. In descending into the waters of baptism, you and I died to our old selves and were reborn by water and the Holy Spirit, into the love of the Father.

     Today as we recall the baptism of our Lord we are challenged to ask ourselves how do we relate to God.  Do we truly believe that we are beloved sons and daughters of God? Can we humble ourselves to recognize that Him who made us also loves us and is calling us into a loving relationship with Him? Sadly while many of us can come to recognize the love of God on an academic or a mental level very few of us are able to get that head knowledge to our heart.

     If you are anything like me we can find ourselves at times feeling like we need to earn God’s love. We become afraid that He might decide He doesn’t really love us any more, or that we might do something to lose his love. Sure we may know in our minds about God’s unconditional love of us, but for various reasons it doesn’t make it down to our hearts. We know that God love us unconditionally and even when we reject His love through sin, He is waiting with open arms to welcome us back, yet for various reasons their seems to be a disconnect between what we experience in our hearts and what we know in our minds

     Perhaps this disconnect is because of what we experience in our world. Sadly we live in a world of imperfect love, a world where love so often becomes cold. A world where love often comes with strings attached. Yet conditional love is something that we as human people inflect on each other, but it is foreign to God. While you and I don’t deserve the Father’s love, it is freely given to us. In fact there is nothing in the world that we could ever do to deserve the love of God. Think about it. Is there really anything that we as mere mortals can do that can in anyway impress Him who created us. Yet how often do we interact with God as if it were up to us and our actions to make Him love us? How often do we go through our lives believing that we have to convince God to send love our way.

     Friends today’s feast challenges us to see our relationship with God in a new way. How differently would our lives be if we truly believed that God loves us unconditionally? How would it change our outlook on life? Would it embolden to live out our faith, knowing that we always have God at our side to walk this life with us? How different would our lives be if we truly believed that we could not lose the love and approval of God, regardless of our success and failures? How differently would we treat other people, if we realize that the one who is madly in love with you is also loving everyone is the same way?

     Whether we recognize it or not, we are alive because God loves us, thinks of us, and will that we move around. Every moment of every day He is thinking of each of us specifically, He is smiling and crying and feeling everything we do. There is nothing we could have done to earn this type of love, yet God came into this world as a little baby and dying for us on the cross, showing his love for as, after all “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”[1]

     My friends we can search everywhere in this world for the inner desire to love and be loved, but until we are willing to surrender and let God love us with His unconditional love we are only going to feel the momentary satisfaction of today’s pop hits.  As we close out this Christmas season, I invite you to join me in making a resolution, to get out of the way allow that child we discovered in the manger on Christmas to love you like He wants and then to share that love with the rest of the world.

[1] Jn 15:13

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