Dear Sacred Heart family,
“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” Thus, Saint Thomas Aquinas reminds us, in very elegant language, of how valuable friends are to us. Whether a few, or many, friends are God’s greatest gift. The Baptism of the Lord this weekend should give us much to rejoice about: the reality of Jesus as our best friend.
We are not alone, we are not abandoned, He is with us. Sometimes He will even permit us to lose many things on which we tend to rely, in order to turn our hearts and minds to look upon His Face. To see Jesus gazing upon us, with eyes of love, changes us. Slowly we give Him permission to enter into our hearts, our lives and situations. This begins in a very profound and hopeful way in the feast of His Baptism.
Before Jesus came to earth, Adam had closed off our relationship to God, and cut off the human family from God, with a rupture that left us alone and isolated, wounded in our relationship to God, each other, and ourselves. The ministry of John the Baptist was to lay the foundation for a hopeful future, no doubt, but it was a foundation. The call to repentance was a sign, to prepare for a mysterious Messiah to come.
Then Jesus appears in line with everyone else, simple, approachable and humble. As He was in the manger, and as He would be in His Passion and Death, Jesus took our place. He came quietly to find us, to walk amidst our daily lives and routine, and yet to do something which would change everything. John recognized that the One had arrived. He understood deeply that He was now in the presence of the fulfillment of everything, who gently and tenderly understood us, but was also present to breakthrough all that was holding us back from the Father in Heaven.
Deep in prayer, Jesus emerged from the waters and looked up to see the Heavens opened, for us. The long loneliness and isolation of our condition was over. The waters had been touched by grace and the earth rejoiced, the universe now knew that the long wait had ended, and that the Lord had begun to walk in the Garden again. G.K. Chesterton, in his book,The Everlasting Man, notes this understood on Easter Sunday:
“On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of a new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in a semblance of the gardener God walked again in the garden, in the cool not of the evening but the dawn.”
As I write this, weather predictions are for snow this weekend. Whether you are at home, shut in by snow, or reading this at Church, I join you in asking the Lord to help us all understand what a marvelous event for the cosmos, all people, and each one of us, is the Baptism of the Lord.
No mere symbol, but a heart-transforming moment of grace, which God applied to us when we received Eternal Life in our own Baptism. May this river of grace run through our new year, and deepen our awareness of the best friend we have, who is to be treasured above all things, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
In Our Lady's Immaculate Heart,
Rev. Bjorn C. Lundberg