December 3, 2021
Several weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a conference that focused on healing, identity, and doing away with the lies we carry about God and ourselves. At one point in this conference, they asked for three volunteers to step forward and to stand in the place of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in depicting Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. Often after this exercise the volunteers report feeling deep senses of peace, love, intimacy with God, clarity, etc. In this case, however, two of the young men who volunteered—those portraying the Father and the Son—reported feeling resistance in their hearts in this experience, as if their hearts were saying, “I can’t be here…this isn’t for me.”
When these young men finished speaking about their experience one of the many priests who was watching spoke up and said simply, “Brothers, I thank you for your honesty and courage because, if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s all of us.” This statement, when it struck my ears, I found to be so true.
And today, in this place, when we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, the Lord through the Church is speaking right to this resistance in us. We can hear and say with an eye-roll, “we know,” when we are told, “You, too, since you have been baptised into Christ, are in word and truth God’s beloved child.” We can feel an internal repulsion to this message: “Me? Do you know who I am? Do you know what I’ve done?” And yet, this mystery of Jesus’ Baptism, this unveiling of the identity of Jesus as Beloved Son of God is truly an unveiling of the identity of those of us who are baptised into Christ: you are God’s beloved son and daughter, in whom He is well pleased.
This is not only true, but this is the truest thing about you! Yet we encounter resistance in ourselves as we refuse to face Jesus and instead turn to our failures, our wounds, our past, and all the lies and false mirrors and perceptions of self we cling to idolatrously for our identity, and we try to stop our ears and suffocate the Breath of God who comes bringing this sweet realization to our minds. We so often fall for the mirrors and voices of lies past that we fall into the trap of thinking that truth is a majority vote—that the loudness of these lies makes them the truth.
Truth is not a majority vote. Truth is Jesus Christ, even the truth about you. Jesus wants to take a figurative baseball bat to each of the lies we carry. He wants to break all the mirrors that you and I set up as we hide from our real identity as children of God. He sees and knows when we have lies we’ve been living in: mirrors call us, “forgotten”, but He takes that baseball bat and shatters this mirror; “There has never been a moment the Father hasn’t thought of you,” He says truly, confidently, and lovingly.
Another mirror says, “unloved”. He shatters it; “Behold My wounds, and know that you are so loved by God that, in truth, you are worth God’s Blood.”
“Orphan”? He shatters that one, too; “You are God’s beloved son, His beloved daughter, and He delights in you!”
In His Baptism, in this very place, He embraces me, He embraces you, and He pulls us back into the waters of the Jordan with Him, into His very identity—our identity—saying, “The Spirit loves you. I love you. The Father loves you. And the only mirrors you will ever need are the only ones that will never lie: my tender and loving eyes looking back on you.”
Deacon Tom Logue
Diocese of Joliet