Gospel for Janurary 9, 2011 — God’s Booming Voice

John the Baptist baptizing Christ
Image via Wikipedia

The Gospel for January 9, 2011 is from Matthew 3:13-17 — the Baptism of Jesus which is also the First Luminous Mystery of the holy rosary.  When you pray this mystery, remember verse 3:17 where God tells John the Baptist and others gathered, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Very few people in the history of the human kind have ever directly heard the voice of God.  Imagine how great and at the same time terrifying that experience must have been for those present at Jesus’ baptism.  I know many times we may wish that God would talk to us in a more direct way such as through a booming voice from the sky.  But would you be truly prepared for such an event?  Would you be willing to change your entire life since you could no longer be ignorant of God’s existence, His laws, and the divine nature of Jesus Christ?

And yet I wonder how many people present at Jesus’ baptism were also there at Pontius Pilot’s palace yelling, “crucify Him!”  That shows just how stubborn (and stupid) we can act at times.  Even when we hear God’s Word and know what God expects of us, we turn around and either abandon Him or outright attack Him or His Church.  We do this all the time.  We know what is right and wrong in most common cases.  We know what the Church teaches about various moral, ethical, and social issues.  And yet so often we flagrantly act contrary to God’s Will.  It makes me wonder if we would even convert our sinful ways if God did speak to us as a voice in the sky.  After all, God would be competing with Oprah, television, and the media to whom we usually give more attention.

None of us have heard God as a booming voice in the sky.  But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t speak to us.  He speaks through the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.  He spoke through the saints.  And God speaks to us through prayer.  When it really comes down to it, we really don’t have much of an excuse to not keep God’s laws because He constantly communicates them to us.

When we pray the First Luminous Mystery of the rosary and recall Jesus’ baptism, let us also recall our own baptism.  Remember that through our baptism God calls us to live in His grace and one day be with Him in Heaven.  At our baptism, we were about as close to God as we ever can be in this life because our souls are wiped clean of all sin and we did not face any time in Purgatory.  That is the state God desires for our souls.  Trying to live in that state should be our ultimate goal in life.  That is what this Gospel and rosary mystery remind us.  In your prayers, really listen to what God says to you.  When you silence all those distractions and open your heart to God then you may actually realize that God does speak to you with a booming voice.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Rosary Meditation — The First Luminous Mystery

This rosary meditation focuses on The First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan. In this mystery we see Jesus transforming Baptism from being a purely symbolic act of renewal to an actual gift of the Holy Spirit that cleanses our soul of original sin. For this mystery I’m going to focus on the central message of John the Baptist — a call to repentance. While John is usually associated with Baptism (hence his title), his ministry really focuses on the Sacrament of Confession. He preached that we prepare ourselves to fully receive God when we approach Him with a repentant heart. These two sacraments really go hand-in-hand in that they both center around the Holy Spirit cleansing our soul of the effects of sin.

Farmer at the dentist, Johann Liss, c. 1616-17.
Image via Wikipedia

This rosary meditation focuses on The First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.  In this mystery we see Jesus transforming Baptism from being a purely symbolic act of renewal to an actual gift of the Holy Spirit that cleanses our soul of original sin.  For this mystery I’m going to focus on the central message of John the Baptist — a call to repentance.  While John is usually associated with Baptism (hence his title), his ministry really focuses on the Sacrament of Confession.  He preached that we prepare ourselves to fully receive God when we approach Him with a repentant heart.  These two sacraments really go hand-in-hand in that they both center around the Holy Spirit cleansing our soul of the effects of sin.

Think about how you take care of your teeth.  You brush and floss daily to keep them clean.  However, every six months you also need to go to a dentist to have your mouth thoroughly inspected and cleaned by a professional.  Seeing your dentist is not a sign of bad oral health.  It’s not like the only people who need to see a dentist are those who do not brush regularly.  Rather, everyone needs regular brushing and checkups or else our teeth will not be their strongest.  Skipping the daily brushing routine or the checkups might lead to premature dentures.

What does this have to do with repentance besides the fact that most people would probably consider a trip to the dentist as some sort of penance?  Like brushing your teeth, prayer must be part of your daily routine to keep your soul healthy.  Regular prayer is your time to reflect on all those ways you have lived God’s will and offer Him thanksgiving.  You also ask for strength and guidance to continue living a spiritually healthy life.  Prayer serves as a little check to prevent sin from entering and decaying your soul.  However, every so often you also need to see a professional to give your soul a thorough scrubbing away of sin.  And that scrubbing is the Sacrament of Confession.

Just like how brushing alone isn’t enough to keep your teeth healthy, individual prayer alone is not enough to keep your soul healthy.  You can’t completely fix the effects of sin with only individual prayer.  There are instances where your soul requires the help of a professional in order to fix the spiritual decay that may be attacking and spreading within you.  You may think that my analogy leads to the priest hearing your confession to be that professional who “fixes” your soul.  However, the priest is merely the assistant.  The real professional, the one who actually cleanses your soul of sin, is God.  God works through the priest to clean your soul and restore it back to a clean and healthy state.

This mystery should remind us of John the Baptist’s message that we should “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Mt 3:3).  Let us remember to be thoroughly repentant not just through our private prayers but also by receiving the sacrament of Confession.  That way we clear out souls of everything that blocks us from fully receiving God’s graces.  Instead of seeing confession as some sort of punishment, let us see it for what it really is — a gift.  It is our chance to set things right, fix what is broken in our life, and build a stronger relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May we remember that it is through confession that we return to that pure innocence that we had at our Baptism.  We return to that state of grace that God desires for all of us.  So let us make the effort to go to Confession regularly (the Church says at least once a year) and live as true disciples of Jesus Christ.  And you might want to pop in to see your dentist as well!

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,