(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
We are still celebrating the feast of Christmas! This is the last of the 3 Sundays celebrating the Light coming into the world, celebrating God becoming human, one of us. For the first two Sundays of Christmas, we heard about Jesus as a baby, but now, in the Gospel for this Sunday, we hear about Jesus as a grown up man.
The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Here is John the Baptist, who stands in the Jordan River and baptizes people. The people like this. It makes them feel good and it makes them feel closer to God. They begin to wonder about John. They wonder if he is the Light of the World.
John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming...He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
The Holy Spirit and fire? The people must wonder what this means.
John the Baptist tells them that someone is coming. Who does John mean? Who are they waiting for? We know, of course—it is Jesus! But where is he? What is Jesus doing?
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying...
Oh! Jesus is baptized, too! All the people and Jesus, too. But what else? What else is Jesus doing? St. Luke tells us that Jesus is praying.
What does this mean? What is praying? Sometimes people say that praying is talking to God. That is true. But we do not hear Jesus talking, do we? He does not seem to be saying any words. Then what is he doing? How is Jesus praying?
Three things happen while Jesus prays. First,
the heaven was opened
Whenever we hear of heaven, we know we are talking about God. If heaven is open, how close is God to Jesus? When Jesus prays, God comes near.
the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove.
A dove is a bird. Is St. Luke telling us that the Holy Spirit is a bird?? No. He says "like a dove." A dove is pure white, no darkness in it. When Jesus prays, there is no darkness, only light.
And a voice came from heaven
A voice from heaven? Whose voice is that? When Jesus prays, he hears the voice of God. Does he hear God with his ears? Does he hear God with his heart? Perhaps he hears God with the Holy Spirit who comes down upon him.
The voice says,
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
When Jesus prays, it is God who speaks. God calls Jesus his Son, his child. Jesus knows he belongs to God.
When Jesus prays, God calls him by a new name: the Beloved. Be Loved. That is who Jesus is, Loved all over by God.
Be Loved, Jesus.
So much happens when Jesus prays without any words.
God comes near.
There is no darkness, only light.
He hears the voice of God.
God speaks. He belongs to God.
God calls him Beloved because that is who he is.
When Jesus prays without words, he lets God love him all over.
Can we pray without words, too?
Will God come near?
We can try. We can be still and speak no words, and let God love us all over.
Be Loved, my child.