Feast of the The Baptism of the Lord – Homily
I want to look at this passage today from Acts 10:38: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
Fr. Ronald Rolheiser is a Catholic priest and member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, is president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas.
In reflecting on today’s readings, he writes that, as he looks at churches, religious institutions and moral circles “There’s a lot more admiration than transformation. This is also true in the arts, in politics, and academia. It’s easy to point to people who are good at stuff and say “Aren’t they great” or “Isn’t that wonderful.” But actually creating new beauty and actually bettering community is something that many people don’t want to undertake themselves. We might be brilliant at pointing out what’s wrong, but far less effective in actually improving the situation.”
Why is that the case? I offer two reasons. The first reason is that it’s hard.
I was talking to a professional counselor recently about the Church at large, our archdiocese, and the parish. I asked him whether his patient load, the types of issues he’s dealing with and the types of patients he’s seeing has changed over the past 20 – 25 years. He mentioned that some things have definitely changed. The economy is playing a more significant role and this has led to an increase of anxiety and worry. Use of medication has increased. Sexual confusion and other issues for both men and women is an epidemic which is leading to greater strain on marriages.
It was interesting that during the discussion, we both hit upon an area that we both find frustrating and it’s the second reason people find it difficult to improve the situation, the society or themselves. The second reason (besides the fact that it’s hard) is that people often “get stuck.”
We talked about the way that we have noticed people “getting stuck” in two ways:
- In the first case, people will engage in the therapeutic process but no progress will be seen. This might be due to the fact that they say they’re just fine or have determined that they have made enough progress already, so they quit.
- It might be due to fear of pushing into an area of life where they’re not comfortable.
- They might be addicted to therapy as a means if garnering constant attention from a counselor, a therapist or other support people.
No matter the reason, they just don’t move forward. They’re stuck.
- The other case deals with “teenagers” – but these are”teenagers” who just happen to be in 30 or 40 or 50 year old bodies.
- They’re often self centered and have an entitlement mentality.
- They want what they want – the way that they want it – and when they want it.
- Explaining the reasons why life doesn’t work that way or why they can’t have all of this – and explain it in a rational way – is a futile exercise. They just don’t get it. They’re stuck.
All of us – ALL OF US – are stuck somewhere in our life. For most of us, it might manifest itself in recurring habits or sins that we confess again and again and again.
How do you get UNstuck? As we read in Acts, through Jesus Christ, through His power and His healing.
- We often hear that the divorce rate among Catholics is about the same as non-Catholics – about 50%.
- He and I feel that this is an inaccurate statistic because it doesn’t make the distinction between practicing and non-practicing Catholics.
- He mentioned that most couples whom he counsels are very interested in – and actually do engage their faith quite significantly within the context of the therapeutic process.
- These are people who are willing to struggle with everything, with their faith, with their prayer life, with their parish and the church, with their daemons, with the daemons of their spouse, with their marriage.
- The process is difficult and messy. Often they don’t see the progress they’re making – but they’re not stuck. They keep going and the success rate for them, according to my counselor / friend is noticeably higher – about 80%. **
I was reading a sermon by Saint Proclus of Constantinople. He was a bishop, a friend and disciple of Saint John Chrysostom and lived around the year 450 AD. In a sermon of his, he wrote the following:
- “Christ appeared in the world, bringing beauty out of disarray.
- He sanctified the fountains of waters and (for those who are willing to be baptized in, and take seriously, those waters) he enlightened the minds of (those) men and women.
- And into the fabric of miracles – he interwove ever greater miracles.”
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”
When we were baptized, the following words were said: “We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the water of this font. May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life.”
And so during this Feast of the Baptism of The Lord we celebrate Jesus who rose from the waters of the Jordan. And we pray: “Please Lord, let me get UNstuck. Let the world – let MY world – come up from the water as you did.”
Audio version of the homily:
** Speaking for myself, I have found couples of faith get through some rather difficult situations even betrayals and infidelity. The one situation that I have seen break up marriages often is the death of a child. People grieve so very differently, in different ways. They engage their faith and spirituality differently and can have very different needs and thoughts on how to practically approach the situation and move forward. These differences often seem to build a chasm between partners that appears very difficult to reconcile.