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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Baptism - Identity



Audio: click here! (8pm Mass)

Many stories, whether movies or books, are focused on the question of identity: Who am I?  The answer should be God’s beloved. His adopted son or daughter.
The source of your value should come from your Baptism.  Your identity is found in Christ.  Colossians 3: You are hidden in Christ. When Christ, your life, appears, then you will appear with him in glory. Not in what you do – a common mistake in American culture that values everything by $, by output and how it fits into the economic realm.
When you believe a lie, you empower the liar.  You give them power over your life.  That lie affects the way you live.
I’m a jock.  I’m a comedian. I’m a nice-guy. I’m reliable. I’m a hard worker. I’m a family man. I’m loyal.  I’m smart. I’m caring. I’m productive. I’m successful. I’m talented. I’m special. I’m irreplaceable. I’m blah blah blah.  And to flip it on its head there are other lies that can be sown in our hearts, especially when we find that we don’t measure up: I’m a mess. I’m broken. I’m damaged goods. I can’t love. I’m not worthy of God. I don’t deserve friends. I always mess things up. I’ll never get it straight.
All of these can be ways for the lies of identity to take root in something other than God.  And if those lies grow, you live differently, and your life and those you touch will be worse off, perhaps drastically worse for those lies.
Our identity does not come from what we do, but from who we are as created in God’s image and likeness, and above all recreated through Baptism.  Our identity is from who God says we are, not what the world says about us.
Christ emptied himself into the world in its entirety, in order that the world might be reconciled with the Father… Christ entered into every aspect of being human, with its temptations, its fears, its joys and aspirations, even its sin (without of course sinning himself), in order that all of humanity, every aspect of us, might be liberated from slavery to sin, to those lies that we have given power over us, and be reconciled into full communion with God.  To be brought into God’s family. (Heart of the World, Center of the Church, p. 312).
This is what the fathers of the church (early bishops and other preachers) called a “Mirabile commercium”: wondrous exchange.
In Jesus, God wants to strike a deal with us.  He basically is saying to us: You give me all of yourself, and I’ll give you all of myself.
Jesus Christ enters us, so that we might enter into Christ. (ibid)
What’s the catch?  We have to be all in.  We have to hand it all over.  We will receive it back, but in a new way.  It won’t be the same after we hand it all over to Jesus, because it will actually be better.  It will in fact be free of all the things that actually sucked life from us.  This is what it means to give your entire self to Jesus so that he gives His entire self to you.
And this great trade begins in baptism, and its fullness is made present here in the Eucharist, for this is indeed the future within the present, heaven breaking into our time.  Pope Benedict: The divine Child whom we adore in the crib is the Emmanuel, God-with-us, who is really present in the sacrament of the Altar. The wonderful exchange, the "mirabile commercium", that takes place in Bethlehem between God and humanity becomes constantly present in the sacrament of the Eucharist, which for this reason is the source of the Church's life and holiness. (Pope B. XVI. Address to Roman Curia 2004-12-21).
St. Paul tells us: “Christ became poor though he was rich, so that by his poverty we might become rich.” Let us live the beauty of this identity that we have in our Baptism by giving ourselves anew to our Eucharistic Lord, so that we may receive His fullness.

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