Will You Come to My Party?
I. Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and the end of the Christmas Season
a. Enjoy our beautiful decorations for one last Sunday
b. How many of you still have your lights up?
c. Like you, I enjoy this Season to the very last drop!
i. One of those guys who enjoys every last bit of desert, lick my fingers and pick up any stray sprinkles or frosting when no one is looking.
d. Like presents under the tree, in many ways the best gift of the season is saved for last.
II. Started our preparation for this season with reflections on “Expect the Unexpected”
a. Share one last unexpected event with you
III. Parishioner shopping on Christmas Eve
a. 4 or 5 year old boy at a Christmas tree lot with his grandparents
b. Lot closed, our parishioner asked if she could help
c. Boy asked, “Did your grandmother recently die?”
i. In fact, mother-in-law recently passed.
d. Boy said, “You need to call your sister.”
i. “oh, I’ve been meaning to do that
ii. “Be sure to call her”
iii. Indeed, sister going through a very difficult , emotional time, and needed her
e. Then the boy said, “Tomorrow –that would be Christmas Day—Tomorrow is my birthday!”
f. And I’m going to throw a BIIIIG birthday party
g. I want you to come. In fact, I want the whole world to come.
h. WILL YOU SAY YES? WILL YOU COME TO MY PARTY?”
i. Whatever you make of this unexpected encounter, physical or spiritual, I believe the invitation was meant to be extended to all of us through our parishioner. “Will you come to my party?”
IV. Today’s Gospel reminds us God has prepared a great party, and invites us to say yes with our whole being—mind, body, and soul—to come to a birthday party, OUR birthday, a celebration of our birth into a new, divine, everlasting life.
V. We find the celebration prepared and waiting….
a. John is calling the Chosen People back to the Jordan
b. Back to where their journey into the Promised Land began
c. Into the water, to repent their sin, and rise up ready to again enter the a new life in the promised land
d. John is doing something new
e. Not a ritual washing of hands, utensils, ….
f. But a one-time washing, never to be repeated, a repentance from sin, and a total and complete conversion of one’s whole self completely to God.
g. The party is all prepared. God stands ready to celebrate His gift of new life.
h. God stands ready to thunder His voice from the heavens, as He did at the beginning of time, sending His voice out over the waters to create heaven and earth, and all life
i. The dove is at the ready, to descend upon the earth, as in the days of Noah, to be a sign of renewed life
j. All is ready, the heavens are pregnant with God’s NEW act of Creation, to come close and share His own Divine Life with His Children
VI. All waits on these two cousins, John and Jesus, standing in the Jordan River
a. And John, at this moment of fulfillment, tries to prevent it, “You should baptize me, I am not fit to baptize you!
i. And we here would all agree
b. All is still, as we await Jesus’ answer
c. He turns to John and says, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
VII. …. And that needs explaining.
a. In Jesus’ time, to be a righteous man is to surrender your whole self to fulfilling the Law and the Prophets
b. It is a surrendering of your whole being to doing the will of God. “Not my will, but your will be done”
VIII. And now we see why this Feast properly closes the Christmas Season
a. Advent, our preparation for Christmas, began with Mary’s Great YES to God…trusting her whole self to the will of God.
b. … and ends with Jesus.
c. echoing his mother Mary’s YES
d. and committing his whole self to righteousness,
e. To doing the will of God.
f. This feast not only echoes Mary’s Yes, in words that recall St. Joseph—“a righteous man”, but also foreshadows Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, not my will, but your will be done.”
IX. Jesus’ YES opens the heavens, the gift of the Holy Spirit and new, divine life pours forth in the form of a dove,
X. And God declares Himself pleased with His Son, and His choosing to do His father’s will.
XI. And what is the will of God? To invite the nations into God’s Kingdom, to reveal the way, the truth, and the life, to come as the servant to sinful humanity and not its’ master, to give up His life in Love while we were still sinners,
XII. To enter into the waters of the Jordan to enter into our brokenness, and to rise up and invite all to an everlasting celebration of new life.
XIII. To ask, like the boy in the tree lot, “Will you come to my party?”
XIV. Today, in a very special way, through the Rite of Enrollment, we are celebrating with our children who are saying “Yes” to Jesus’ invitation.
a. Most were carried in the parent’s arms to our Baptismal font
b. Today they took their first steps on their own, on their journey to following God’s will
XV. And how do we say Yes to our own personal invitation?
a. By fulfilling our Baptismal Promises as best we can.
b. By studying the Way, the Truth, and the Life Jesus has exemplified for us through a prayerful study of scripture
c. To make time daily to raise our hearts and minds to Christ to know and love Him, and discern His will for us
d. To attend Mass and the Sacraments, to offer ourselves in service to the Kingdom, and to receive His grace, and the love of caring community.
XVI. In the Sacraments of Baptism and Eucharist
a. Like Mary, we asked to be the servants of God, to do God’s will
b. Like Jesus, we are asked to be righteous, to turn, and commit our whole life without reservation to serving the will of God, of loving God and neighbor.
c. And each time we touch the flowing water at the entrance to our Church, we touch the waters of the Jordan, as we bless ourselves and say, “Yes!”
XVII. All is prepared, the heavens are ready for the celebration,
a. The humble Jesus immerses Himself fully in our humanity, and rises from the water
b. ready to share His divine life and grace with us, and asks,
XVIII. “Will you come to my party?”