In Mark’s gospel, the first of all the gospels, we hear of what took place when Jesus went, as so many others were doing, to the Jordan River to be baptised by his cousin John. John was reluctant to do this, he knew Jesus was greater than he but Jesus insisted. When Jesus came up out of the water we hear that the heavens were torn apart and a voice declared – you are my son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased.
I read somewhere that the ancient world had a very primitive understanding of reproduction and it was impossible to prove who the actual father of a child was. Everyone knew who the child’s mother but who is its father? It was only when a father acknowledged a baby as his own did that boy or girl become a son or daughter. We saw something like this at the circumcision of John the Baptist when Zachariah declared ‘his name in John’, accepting him as his son.
We know that Joseph, by agreeing to marry Mary who was not pregnant by him, performed precisely this task on behalf of Jesus. Joseph accepted Jesus as his son making Jesus a member of his household and giving Jesus honorable standing and a secure setting in which to live.
Now on the banks of the Jordon God the Father declared Jesus as his son, a son in whom he would be well pleased.
In his letter to the Ephesians St. Paul tell his early converts an amazing thing ; before the world began God chose us – you and me – to be his adopted sons and daughters, such was God’s will and pleasure. At our own baptism – with the pouring of the water and the saying of the words –I baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit what was true in eternity becomes true in time – we are the adopted sons and daughters of God our Father. It is so hard to get our heads around such a truth of how important we are to God, how loved we are by the Father who sent his son into the world not to condemn us but to bring us closer to Him.
Baptism is always seen as a birthing – we are reborn into everlasting life. Birthing initiates grow. Time and again Paul calls us to put on Christ, to have that mind in us that was also in Christ Jesus, Paul encourages us to grow to full maturity in Christ. This is our daily task. We are to recognize our own dignity as chosen sons and daughters or God and we are to recognize that same choseness is all those who come into our lives in the course of the day and show the respect that is their due. Growing in Christ we are to find it in our hearts to forgive those who do us harm, we are to hold back from judging the life and lifestyles of others remembering the words of Christ that we are not judge. Having that mind in us that was also in Christ Jesus we are called to reach out to those who are less blessed than we are – the hungry and homeless, the street people trying to survive in the cold snap we are enduring.
Putting on Christ is a life time effort that comes to us by God’s grace. With this in mind we might ask ourselves, when at the end of a day we reflect back on our day, could the Father who chose us as his own be able to say of us – this is my beloved son, my beloved daughter in whom I am well pleased.