On this Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the end to the Christmas season. “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”’ (Luke 3:22)
Recently on the radio I heard a talk host asking what keeps us happy and healthy in this journey we call life? One might think lots of people said: money or fame. Wrong. They actually did a study and found that most people answered: relationships. It was the connection with others that was their secret to happiness and good health, and even longevity.
The scientists tell us that social connections are good for us. Loneliness kills. I believe this past year, and even currently, lockdowns in nursing homes and assisted living facilities have proven this to be quite the case. Covid restrictions on gatherings have affected all of us, true, but even more so those who are totally isolated. Those same scientists also said that it was not the number of relationships we have, but the quality of them, the depth of them that keeps us healthy. So we could say that happiness is about relationships which give us purpose and a sense of fulfillment in life.
In the Scripture for the Baptism of the Lord we hear about Jesus and his relationship with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus is just part of the crowd and is baptized with the rest of the folks gathered there listening to John the Baptist. But…all of a sudden the skies open and the three persons of the Trinity, described as appearing together, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are joined in a celebration of affirmation and blessing. We hear that the Holy Spirit even becomes visible as a dove and a voice is heard confirming that Jesus “is my Beloved Son” and “upon him the Father’s favor rests.”
So here is Jesus responding to John’s baptismal call to embrace a life of treating the poor and the weak with compassion by developing a relationship with God as Father. He becomes so close that he dares to call God “Abba” a name used then for the most personal of relationships!
The exciting part of the story for us, though, is that God has chosen to bestow that same blessing and favor and love on us, his beloved ones. We too are God’s daughters and sons. We are God’s “beloved.” Our own baptism says that we are connected to God and now a part of his family. We are in relationship with the Trinity!
Is God well pleased with us? Have we formed a close, personal and trusting relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? That relationship will bring us true happiness…and it is enduring. As Providence People, are we willing to be empowered by this relationship to be the face of God to others in our wounded world?
In this New Year of 2021 may each of us examine our relationship with God so that God can say we are the sons and daughters in whom God is “well pleased.”
I wrote this blog and scheduled it to be published for the weekend feast of the Baptism of the Lord–several days before the insurrection of Jan. 6 happened. I am appalled and saddened by the attack on our nation’s Capitol. If we are truly in relationship with the God who is LOVE, then bigotry, hatred and violence have no place to go. I was heartened by the Speaker of the House invoking the prayer of St. Francis, asking for us to be sowers of peace. Provident God, please help us to be bearers of your Light and Peace to our very divided and wounded nation.
Barbara McMullen, CDP