Two months ago my granddaughter, Haley, went to a birthday party for her friend who was turning three. Fifteen children sat in a circle on the floor at "My Gym" and the leader asked that when it was their turn they would tell their name and how old they were. One of the first to speak was an older sister who gave her name and said, "I'm almost five". They proceeded around the circle with some children being too shy to say their name or age : others saying their name but not knowing their age. My daughter Rebecca sat waiting for Haley's turn and wondering what she would say. Much to her surprise she heard Haley say her name and then say: "I almost three!" She had understood the older girl's "almost 5" and applied it to herself. Even at two or three we are unfolding in our awareness of who we are. You might say "we are awakening".
In today's Gospel there is an awakening for John the Baptizer and for Jesus. One of the other Gospels has John saying of Jesus, "I did not know him myself" and yet in today's gospel - even before Jesus enters the waters : John says to Jesus, "You should be baptizing me!" This leads me to believe that John had some kind of personal revelation that Jesus was the One he had said would be greater than himself : whose sandal he wasn't worthy to untie. None of the gospels indicate that Jesus had done anything extraordinary before the time of his baptism. So truly John was awakened to the unique identity of Jesus.
After Jesus was baptized by John and came out of the water "suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." This is the awakening of Jesus to his identity as "the beloved Son". This was so profound that the Spirit led him into the desert for 40 days to be tempted and to process the meaning and the mission implicit in the message.
Jesus' life is forever changed. He is the Beloved and his mission will be to teach us that WE are also the Beloved. Our "child of God" identity is hidden within us and our life journey is to AWAKEN to our inner reality. Like "almost 3-year-old Haley" we need to grow in awareness of the God-life within us.
We are not driven into the desert as Jesus was but life has a way of leading us ultimately to the hidden truth of who we are. The Psalms say, "Be still and know that I am". There is a process here. A life experience that comes unexpectedly : it broad-sides us and we are left reeling. A life-threatening diagnosis, a divorce, a child turning to drugs : a million different life-experiences : frightening as they are they also are an opportunity to be awakened from our sleep : to know that "I Am" dwells within. No matter what happens "You are the Beloved".
Jesus' mission was to teach us that each and every one of us is the Beloved of the Father - of the Mother God. Because Jesus radiated the love of God people's lives were changed. They began to see the beauty within themselves which Jesus saw. Being human the change demanded of them courage and commitment, forgiveness of themselves and others so that they too could radiate the love of Jesus to all in their lives. We are
not only God's son or daughter. We are the son or daughter of our parents. I am the daughter of Margaret Voith and Henry Thomas. I have five sisters and grew up in relative poverty when my dad left us. - I have a very human history and ancestors just as you do. God experiences the world in the myriad experiences of our individual lives. The astounding thing is that God can work this awakening within us no matter what our circumstances of life might be.
Will we see the heavens rent open and hear the words, "Jean, you are my beloved daughter" or "Tom you are my beloved son"? Probably not but over time in opening our hearts to others and to our unique experiences - we will awaken.
When our eyes are opened to the deepest reality of our "being in God" we will begin to see that we too are The Beloved.