One Saturday morning a mother was having breakfast with her young son in the kitchen. She was wearing an old pair of slacks and a tattered sweatshirt. She hadn’t put on any makeup or even combed her hair.
Her young son flashed his blue eyes over his cereal bowl and said, “Mommy, you look so pretty today!”
“Are you teasing me? I’m a sight. I don’t have a bit of makeup on. Monday through Friday you see me in a suit and high heels. Honey, why do you say I look pretty today?”
The boy replied, “When you look like that, I know you are going someplace. But when you look like this, I know you are all mine!!”
You and I are like that little boy, aren’t we? We want someone to be all ours, not because we’re selfish, but because we’re human and we want to be loved, loved by Someone who is so special.
Isaiah the prophet of Advent tells us in our first reading (Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11) that we are loved by God because we are so special. God is like a shepherd who feeds his flock and carries us like lambs in his arms.
St. Peter in the second reading (2 Peter 3:8-14) tells us how much God loves us. He says that God is so patient with us. God can wait a thousand years for me to get my act together or for me to get on the right track with my life.
In today’s Gospel (Mark 1:1-8) we can really get excited about God’s love for us. John the Baptist tells us that Jesus is coming – God’s own son. John the Baptist is such a strange character. He lived in the desert. He dressed in camels’ hair and for food he ate locust and honey. Not your normal guy I would say.
But his message was more unusual. Someone greater than he was coming. He was not worthy to untie his sandal strap. Imagine a car salesman telling you that you can get a better deal somewhere else. You’d say that he’d be going out of business soon.
And you’d be right! John the Baptist is saying, “I want to go out of business soon. Jesus is taking over!” John said he only baptized with water, because his was a baptism of repentance. Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit.
There is a big difference between a baptism of repentance and a baptism of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gets inside of us and touches our souls with God’s love and direction.
What John the Baptist and what Jesus are up to reminds me of the story of two brothers who shared a farm. They worked every year and the harvest was abundant. Each year they split the wealth of the land evenly in their barns.
One night the brother who was single and had never married thought to himself: “It’s not right to divide the grain evenly. My brother has seven children to feed and to raise.” So at night he would take grain from his barn and secretly transfer it to the barn of his married brother.
His married brother thought to himself: “It is not right that we should divide the grain evenly. I have many children to look after me in my old age. My brother has only himself.” So each night the married brother would take grain from his barn and secretly transfer it to the barn of his single brother.
Each night the brothers gave away their grain. Yet each morning it was miraculously replenished. Then one night they met each other half-way between their barns. They realized what had been happening. They embraced each other with laughter and with tears.
When was the last time YOU thought deeply about another person and how YOU could give something of YOURSELF to them?
Thanks to Xavier Mouton for the picture.
MANY FOLKS WANT TO SERVE GOD, BUT ONLY AS GOD’S ADVISORS!!!
My Sunday sermon may not be as great as the one you heard today, but I try. Do send it on to someone you know. They and you can also listen to my podcast: Treatsforthesoul.org.