“You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.” Luke 3:21-22.
Today’s feast day of the Baptism of the Lord is an epiphany, namely the manifestation of Jesus, the human face of God. The point here is that Jesus is a person like us who takes the plunge in the Jordan River and is baptized.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we read Peter’s statement:
“In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.” And yet, most dramatically, in the gospel, we hear a voice from heaven saying: “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.”
In effect, this passage reminds us that Jesus represents God’s embrace of all his creation, all of humanity in its diversity and richness.
We are reading the very early chapters of Luke’s gospel. What’s so special about all of this?
Jesus is among us as a son, a brother, and one who brings healing and hope to humankind.
If we are meeting him for the first time, he appears as a young man possessing high personal power. At the Jordan River, John the Baptist sees and affirms Jesus in his special grace.
It’s the unfolding of a person’s life in those early years or “wonder years” that can teach vital life-lessons and may open us to wonders deep inside each person.
I’m very fond of the great Jesuit thinker Teilhard de Chardin who writes: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
How’s that?? Maybe this recent advice column may help!
This past week I came across an article on the Internet entitled “10 Things Every Kid Should Experience Before the Age of 10,” by Mary Hawkins. It appeared in a blog entitled “Café Mom.”
Hawkins writes that her son is about to turn eight years old in a few weeks, and she wants to make sure he’s having all the right experiences before entering into the “bigger kid territory.”
Here’s the list:
- Having a pet teaches patience and kindness. Of course, you may have to feed, manage, and walk the dog; and you become a caregiver.
- Earning money while doing chores around the house. Your assistance around the home may be a reward.
- Taking a trip to Disneyland is magical, especially the first time a kid sees it. Expensive for many families, yet go to Disneyland. How about seeing the magic in “Mary Poppins Returns”?
- Giving back to the community in service. It may be necessary to see first-hand how you contribute directly to the welfare of others.
- Going camping and sleep under the stars. Gain respect for nature and clean up for the next group of visitors.
- Having a sleepover, staying up late. Sharing your stories to a friend.
- Being part of a team in sports, in dance, or the school band. Learning from peers as well as coaches and teachers.
- Traveling by airplane for the very first time. Can I have the window seat?
- Going on a road trip in the car. Are we there yet?
- Feeling disappointed in knowing that you don’t always get your way. These feelings may build character and resilience, and, yeah, sometimes, things are not fair.
For a young person, these are signs or epiphanies of growth. Some of these may spark a deeper understanding of self, and before you grow into that “bigger kid” territory. Believe me, you don’t have to accomplish all of these by ten years of age. And in fact, some of these are marks of privileged youngsters. So we have to look out for those young people who need some spark of encouragement to get them to the next stage of growth.
Today’s gospel reminds us that Jesus, too, is growing in his understanding of what his life means for others — as he feeds, heals, and rescues people’s lives. His vision is not just a rebuilding of Israel rather a re-imagining of our life in God.
The core message is an epiphany — that the more you love, the more you hope in him and the service you give to those in need — the more you know God.
Again, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
And in this, you may hear an echo, however faint, of God’s voice in you, saying: “You are my beloved son or daughter; with you, I am well pleased.”
Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA