Empowered by Love

01-07-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

In our lives we encounter many people. Those who love us bring us joy just by their presence as we do for them. Then there are people who help us in difficult situations and those who inspire us. We are uplifted most by those who accept us and meet us where we are. That is what today’s feast, the Baptism of the Lord is all about. Jesus went to be baptized by John the Baptist. He did not do that because He was looking for forgiveness for sins and the blessing of God, He began His public ministry with that experience because He came to meet us where we are. In the Gospel from last Monday (Matthew 4:12- 17, 23-25), we see that Jesus heard about the imprisonment of John the Baptist by King Herod. He left that region and went elsewhere to preach, heal, and offer God’s love. His goal was not to confront evil as much as empower us with the Spirit of God’s life, love, and truth. All societies need laws and guidelines. But even more basic is being empowered to live freely, peacefully, and justly. That is exactly what Jesus came to do. One of the most basic foundations for any society, nation, or organization of people is the Ten Commandments. They are very basic, straightforward, and simple. To seek to change, modify, or revoke any one of them is to put ourselves in direct conflict with God and ultimately with one another. Jesus expanded our understanding of the Ten Commandments by the basic and practical ways He preached, healed, and reached out to those in front of Him. His words, presence, attitude, and actions brought peace, truth, healing, and hope, all of which opened minds and hearts to how we are empowered by the presence of Jesus in our lives. He is the one who enables us to see the truth of who we are and live that truth with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Those we love are never a burden to us. We are never a burden to Jesus. He took the burden of our sins and died for them on the cross. He completed His earthly life by loving and forgiving in His last three hours on the cross. In a crossword puzzle I was doing last week, the clue was: that which makes the world rotate. The answer was love. First and foremost it is the love of God who created the world. When we couple His creative power and love with our creative power and love, we make the world go round in peace, hope, joy, and gratitude.

Jesus empowers us in the best sense possible to be signs and sources of His presence. As Isaiah says in the first reading for today (Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7): “Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.”

These words beautifully describe how humble but unbelievably powerful Jesus was in His public ministry and how humble, gentle, and powerful He wants to be in our lives. He empowers us with His love and His life within us.