Sacred Scripture tells us that the heavens open up and the Grace of the Father is
shown forth upon His Beloved Son. That is the image that you and I need to ...
Father Dan Beeman Holy Trinity Baptism of the Lord, Year A I imagine that every neighborhood had a Mr. Hunt. Mr. Hunt lived directly across the street from my house. And Mr. Hunt’s yard wasn’t really a yard. It was a combination of a scenic resort and a perfectly manicured putting green. Our yard, on the other hand, didn’t look like any place any golfer ever appeared. My father had long since given up on weed control or grooming because my brothers and I had well worn into the yard a clear baseball diamond, bullpen area, and on-deck circle. Where grass once was, there were now cleat marks, the shells of sunflower seeds, maybe a stray Boba Fett or Chewbacca figure, and the hard fought blood, sweat and tears of half the neighborhood youth. Mr. Hunt tried not to look over at our yard as he was tending to his garden paradise. But I noticed that every day about 5:30pm, even though he’d already watered the yard or cleaned up grass clippings earlier in the day, he was back outside. Sometimes watering by hand, sometimes cleaning up, but always doing something for just about 15 minutes or so. It seemed his work should have been done, but he was always back at it every afternoon. One day, I ran by him, sent to catch a fly ball gone wild, when I finally asked him, “what are you doing, you were out here all morning, why are you back out here again?” He said, “Dan, to tell you the truth, I’m not out here for me or my yard. I come out here this time every day – right when your dad comes home from work - so that maybe he will see what I am doing and do the same. I’m not out here for me, I’m out here for him!” Like a good son, I waited until just the right moment at supper that night to repeat the news I had heard. Mr. Hunt made his point, and I did without dessert that night! Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ. This celebration, indeed even the occurrence of it in the life of Christ seems strange to us. It seemed strange to Saint John the Baptist too – so much so that when Jesus asked Saint John to baptize him, John protested, knowing it didn’t make sense. But Jesus seemed to be making a very clear point, much like my dad’s yard nemesis made to me that day: He didn’t need Baptism, but He needed us to see it. Jesus was not Baptized for His Own sake, He was Baptized for our sake, to inspire us, move us, challenge us, and invite us to do the same. Quite honestly, Jesus subjected Himself to the water and the Spirit because He knew that you and I would then follow His model. And notice what happens in the moment of Jesus’ Baptism. He responds to the will, the prefect love of the Father, and immediately something powerful happens. Sacred Scripture tells us that the heavens open up and the Grace of the Father is shown forth upon His Beloved Son. That is the image that you and I need to hold to, to cling to, to trust in this morning: The heavens open up. You see, for many of us in our community today, it is hard to joyfully sing praise to God, a struggle to celebrate even with the innocence of this beautiful child about to be made
a Christian all dressed in white, with parents and godparents beaming. I’m mindful that for many worshipping here with us today, they are directly affected by the loss of three great men who were striving to do great things for our nation, for their families, for their God. They worked with them, trained with them, celebrated with them, studied with them, drank with them, and prayed with them. Others among us: pilots, divers, and support crew, in our local community sought to rescue them, but had to humbly realize that as they sought to lift them from the ocean, the Lord of Life instead sought to lift their souls to Himself. And for some of us, each time we hear news like this, it reminds us of the ones we have already mourned but still miss, or strikes fear for those we love who are still serving, who still train and deploy. But for these exact reasons, we need the Lord’s Baptism; because we need our Baptism. In just a minute, we will witness something so powerful that it is the very beginning, the very basis for the Christian life. In the waters of Baptism, we will see parents, godparents, and this child approach the water of life. We will see families renew their faith in Jesus Christ, the One Who destroyed death forever. We will see original sin is washed away, a soul configured to Christ, and this child brought into a the deep mystery of a faith that is 2000 years old: our Catholic Church that holds on to tradition with great precision and care, never wavering for fad or popularity, but remaining strong and true to the gift of faith. We will celebrate not just life, but eternal life; not just this son; but now this son of Almighty God. We will realize that in the moments of darkness, the light and the love of our God shines through. That the sting of death is washed away. And in just a moment, if you are watching with the eyes of faith, my brothers and sisters, I promise you, in your heart you will see the heavens open up. The heavens will open up so that the Holy Spirit can fall on this place and renew our faith, give us a more profound hope in Christ, and imbue in us a love that never lets go. And as we do that for this child being Baptized this weekend, so too must we believe it for us. In moments of sadness, mourning, or confusions, we must do as Jesus did. So let the heavens open up for you! From the heavens where our God reigns in the Communion of Saints, hear the truth that Jesus truly does desire good for us, that He will sustain us, and that His peace can rest in our hearts. When you are frustrated because you have fallen back into an old habit of sin, been weak in your marriage, or been unkind to your brother or sister, let the heavens open up to reconcile you to God and one another with a unity that comes only from the Father who wants to be well pleased with you anew. When you are making decisions about what is next in your life in work, in the military, in your vocation, or with your group of friends, let the heavens open up and feel the guidance of the Holy Spirit speak as you close your ears to the noise of the world and open your heart to the will of God in the peaceful silence. If you are too busy, too tired, or too frustrated with a situation, a relationship, or an already failed New Year’s resolution, let the heavens be opened up – God wants to renew you, pour out His love lavishly, and raise you up again! If you miss your friends, or a parent, or someone you love so much, or if questions nag your heart about life and death and why and
why not, my brothers and sisters, let the heavens open up and begin to believe with the eyes of faith, that this is not the end. See, my friends, Jesus did not need Baptism, but He received it because He knew you and I did. Baptism reminds us that the end is not here, it is in a great Communion of Saints, a great promise of being united with those we love and with our God, a truth of being wrapped in the perfect love of the Father where nothing is lacking, no one is missing. So now, in just a moment, join with that same Communion of Saints. Join with the people who worship among you in these pews, join with this child; innocent, loving, pure gifts of God, join with our Catholic Church in this moment and in your hearts, and let the heavens open up. So that in life in death, in joy and sorrow, we indeed will know the love of our God which never fails. So that Jesus Christ may be praised, now and forever.
1. That as our diocese begins our initiative for The New Evangelization, we might proclaim the love of God and the grace of His Holy Catholic Church to all people, we pray. 2. For our nation, our diocese, and our parish as we mourn the loss of life this week. For consolation and strength for the men, women, and families of Squadron HM14. That the power of life over death speak to our hearts and that the Lord wipe away our every tear, we pray. 3. For the protection of our military, here and abroad. For their families and for those who love them, we pray. 4. For those who are sick and who have asked for our prayers for healing. Especially for the members of our own families, and for: we pray. 5. For the intentions of: 9:00am the Soriano family 11:00am Robert Kidd which is the intention of this Mass, we pray. 6. For those who have died. Especially for those who have given their lives in service to our nation: Lieutenant J. Wesley Van Dorn, United States Navy Lieutenant Sean Christopher Snyder, United States Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Brian Andrew Collins, United States Navy that the Lord reward their sacrifice in His mercy and console our hearts in His love, we pray.