Thank you for joining me as we Lectio the Liturgy with the Collect for the Baptism of Our Lord. Note that this week, there are a couple options for Collects and the scripture readings. What your pastor chooses may be different than the prayer and scripture that we'll look at this week.
Almighty ever-living God, who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
Can we even imagine what it must have been like to be at Jesus’ baptism? This is the first time that Scripture tells us that the heavens were opened. Notice the appearance of the three persons of the Trinity: the people heard the voice of God, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and Jesus, the Son of God, stood there before them. It must have been magnificent to behold.
What we may not realize is, is that the same thing happens at our baptism. We don’t hear or see how God welcomes us to his family, but it does happen.
In ancient days, adoption was a serious matter. Adopting a child meant that that child was freely chosen and desired by the parents. This child would be a permanent part of the family, a parent could not disown a child they adopted. An adopted child would receive a new identity and would become an heir to their father, a joint-sharer in all his possessions.
This isn't just what was true about the ancient Romans, but also for us, today! This is what God gives to us when we are baptized. God lavishes his grace upon us. He desires to have us in his family, so much so that his own son gave his life for us.
In the first reading from Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7, you will hear the same words echoed from the Gospel, Luke 3:22: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” God said those words over each of us at our baptism, too.
I've been wondering what it means to be well pleasing to God. Our first thought might be that list of nice things we should do, the prayers we think we’re required to pray, and hopefully, if we’re good enough, God will be pleased with us. While those are good things, those things won’t earn us God’s favor.
What does one have to do to be well pleasing to God? As it turns out - nothing.
When God is well pleased with us, it means that he delights in us. Some Scripture translations read, “you are my elect [or chosen], in whom my soul delights.”
We are humans who have been given a divine nature, the nature of our Father. That makes us chosen. God delights in us, we bring him great joy, and there is nothing we can do to earn it. It is a gift of his grace.
This divine life is so sweet. Why doesn’t everyone want to keep it, to guard it, to do everything they can to stay in this communion with God?
I finished writing this reflection on the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. The meditation, written by her, in today’s Magnificat magazine asks the question in another way: “There is a mystery, the greatest of all mysteries … that souls of His own creation, whom He gave His life to save, who are endowed with His choicest gifts in all things else, should remain blind, insensible, and deprived of that light without which every other blessing is unavailing!”
God has given us a new identity and he rejoices over us. He rejoices in us. We are his delight. May we strive to live from our baptism, with an open heaven above us, bringing the delight of God to those around us.
Lectio the Liturgy: I find that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to just sit and think about something. I hope that this week you’ll join me in finding time to contemplate this prayer. God delights in you. He rejoices over you with gladness! He will renew us in his love and he sings joyfully, as one sings at festivals, because of you! This week ask God to show you how he delights over you. (Zephaniah 3:17-18a)