Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

"I love you"

This week I authored the reflection on the Sunday Scriptures for The Catholic Spirit. My reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord follows.


“I love you.” These few simple words often are so difficult to speak.

These are words we don’t want to become mundane or insignificant. We know they are true, but sometimes we don’t like to say them. They can be even harder to hear.

How often did Jesus tell his heavenly Father, “I love you”? How often did he hear the Father’s own, “I love you”?

Surely, he would have known that he was the Son of God, the only-begotten of the Father, and he would have known this without fail. Is there any special significance, then, of his hearing the voice from the heavens reaffirming for him, “You are my beloved Son”?

We hear of Jesus’ own baptism, which must have held great significance in his life. The Gospel of John makes this apparent in its proclamation of John pre­paring Jesus’ way. The message would have been the same: “I love you.”

But perhaps that’s the point. At his baptism, Jesus couldn’t have been forgiven anything — he was without sin. The descent of the Spirit couldn’t have consecrated him any more, for he was always about accomplishing the Father’s will.

A change in mission

Perhaps the reason for this great manifestation is not anything about changing Jesus’ identity, but rather about changing his mission.

Until his baptism, he was the obedient son of Nazareth. He was becoming accustomed to the practice of the Jewish life. He was undergoing a preparation for his public ministry, always learning more about the ways of man.

At Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit’s anointing is reaffirmed: He is already the Messiah, the chosen one of Israel. Now, however, the Spirit sends him out. Jesus is given his mandate, so to speak, for his public mission.

Jesus would hear the Father’s “I love you” throughout the rest of his life, such as during the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor, when he heard the “voice from the heavens.” Those moments provided preparation and commissioning for Jesus’ many tasks.

We, too, are given missions. At baptism, we are given the identity of adopted sons and daughters of God. We are made like Christ, but we wait until confirmation for the descent of the Holy Spirit, who reaffirms our status as beloved children and gives us the strength and direction to carry out his will in a public way.

Throughout our lives, we also receive repeated anointings and transformations. We, too, may hear the voice of the Father telling us that we are his beloved children.

Oftentimes we may hear God’s voice just moments before a particularly difficult task ahead of us. Those moments give us opportunities to embrace God’s love and grow deeper into his life.

Like Jesus, we can be strengthened by his love, be affirmed in our identity as beloved children and be sent out to accomplish his will.