Discovering Life's Purpose Week 7: Is God Well Pleased with You?

(January 9, 2022)

Bottom line: We want God to see in us what he sees in Jesus. You are my beloved Son.

Seven weeks ago I began a homily series on Discovering Life's Purpose. I used an article from Scientific American that addresses the fact that during the pandemic we have experienced an overall decline in mental health. No surprise there. Alcohol, substance abuse surged. Young adults were more than twice as likely to seriously consider suicide. There was one surprise, however: the study showed that those who participated weekly in religious services experienced an improvement in mental health.

The reason for this, as we saw in subsequent homilies, is that we are composite beings: we have a physical aspect, our bodies, and a spiritual aspect, our souls, that inner core that can either turn toward God or away from him. We see those two aspects today. John calls people to repent, to turn back to God and then undergo an external cleansing to signify their internal renewal. The physical rite of baptism is so important that even Jesus allowed himself to be baptized. We'll get to the meaning of Jesus' baptism, but first I want to tie it in with some things happening in our parish.

We have a group of people who are receiving the Rite of Acceptance into the Catechumenate. This is a key step on their road to the Easter sacraments: baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. Likewise, we have young people who are beginning their immediate preparation for Confirmation. We want to accompany them.

For our catechumens and confirmation candidates, our parish Knights of Columbus are providing a special book. It has a funny title: One Less God than You. The book shows how to answer the slogans, cliches and fallacies that atheists use to challenge a young person's faith.

Even if a young person is not going to get into a discussion with an atheist, this is a good book to have. For example, it will help a young person understand why we believe in spiritual realities - God and the human soul.

Now, we want more than how to defend our faith. Much more important, we want to feast on our faith. That's why last week I recommended the Fr. Mike Schmitz' Bible in a Year podcast. I used it last year - and I am doing it again, this time in Spanish. The course is not for children, except with careful parental guidance. The Bible has the story of the depths of human depravity. It shows why we need a savior, why we need Jesus. So I recommend Bible in a Year, although there are many other good courses on Word on Fire, Formed, Ascension Press and others. They will lead you to a deeper relationship with Jesus.

Today we hear St. Peter says, "He (Jesus) went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil". Jesus frees us from the oppression of the devil. He heals our wounds. If we follow Jesus, we will receive everything good. Next week, we hear Mary say, "Do whatever he tells you." That little phrase has practically everything we need to discover life's purpose.

Today we hear the Father's voice over Jesus, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased". The question comes: Is God well pleased with you and me? For sure, you and I are capable of greatness because we are made in God's image. Both our souls and our bodies reflect something of God's greatness. Most of us however would admit we have not realized our true potential. We are far from what God wants us to be. I think of that old song:

Every time I look into the Holy Book I want to tremble
When I read about the part Where a carpenter cleared the temple
For the buyers and the sellers were No different fellas than what I profess to be
And it causes me shame to know I'm not the man that I should be

We need ongoing repentance. Ultimately we need Jesus. We want to become one with him. We want God to see in us what he sees in Jesus. You are my beloved Son.

Next Sunday we will see more about the purpose of our souls and bodies when we accompany Jesus at the wedding feast of Cana. It will be the final homily in this series and I'll try to sum up on Discovering Life's Meaning.

Today let's take home that image of Jesus coming out the waters and hearing the Father's voice, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased".

**********

Spanish Version

From Archives (Baptism of the Lord)

2016: (Year C): New Beginning: Second Birth
2015 (Year B): A Scientist Who Renewed His Baptism
2014 (Year A): Entering The Big Story
2013 (Year C): Generous Love
2011 (Year A): Seven Teachings about Baptism
2010 (Year C): Saved Through the Bath of Rebirth
2009 (Year B): The Power of Baptism
2008 (Year A): Road to Sanity
2005 (Year A): Most Shocking
2004 (Year C): With Whom I Am Well Pleased
2003 (Year B): The Membership
2002 (Year A): The Grace of Baptism
2000 (Year B): Limits of Solidarity

Other Homilies

Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C

Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)

Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Summer - Kings and Prophets*

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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron

Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)

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MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru

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