“I am a child of God, and I will trust boldly in my Father’s love.”
This weekend, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It’s a fitting time to reflect on the gift of our own baptism. After all, Jesus had no need of John’s baptism of repentance. He entered into the waters of the Jordan to sanctify those waters, to be counted among the sinners, and to give us an example of what we are to do.
At his baptism, the voice of the Father proclaimed, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11). At our baptism, even though the voice of God the Father isn’t audible from the sky, he says the same about us. In the sacrament, we are reborn, “freed from the power of darkness and brought into the realm of the freedom of the children of God” (CCC 1250).
The Catechism of the Catholic Church begins with this profound reminder in its very first paragraph. God “invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.” It is one of those truths that is perhaps too easily glossed over. In baptism, we become the children of God.
What does this mean?
What Jesus was by nature, the son of God, we become by grace. The Creator has invited us to be much more than his creatures. He has invited us to be his sons and daughters.
“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are” (1 Jn 3:1).
This invitation and this baptismal reality mean we can abandon ourselves to our loving Father. We can trust that God will care for us – even if our earthly fathers have not or even if we do not always feel his presence. As fallen human beings, we may doubt in the Father’s love. That’s been our struggle since the beginning: Adam and Eve did not trust in God’s love for them. He had never given them any reason to think he was anything but all-loving. But the Devil succeeded in planting that doubt in their mind, and we still struggle with that same doubt. Does my heavenly Father really love me and want what is best for me?
We can trust God. It will not always be easy. Perhaps you find yourself in a situation right now that feels far from your heavenly Father. Maybe it seems he is silent. Perhaps your prayers do not seem to be answered. Make an act of faith, even if God does not feel close. Your Father is there and knows your needs (Mt 6:31-33).
He knows our needs, but he wants us to ask. “He awaits our petition because the dignity of his children lies in their freedom” (CCC 2736). Our brother Christ tells us to pray with filial boldness. The Creator loves us so much that he has invited creatures to call him Father. Therefore, he calls us to pray and ask with the boldness of a son who knows his father loves him. “Have faith in God… all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours” (Mk 11:22-24).
This should not be mistaken for a promise that everything we want will be given to us. Like any good earthly father, God will not give us what will hurt us. At times, we ask for a snake or a scorpion – even though we think we are asking for a fish or an egg (Luke 11:11-12). Our Father answers our prayers in the way that won’t jeopardize the inheritance he has prepared for his children – heaven. (In the words of Garth Brooks, “some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers” … although it’s often hard to see that.)
You are a son or daughter of the Most High God. That is your identity. He loves you. In this age of confusion regarding identity, in this time where people want to define themselves and others, you must cling in confidence to that fact: as a baptized Christian, you are a child of God. You are an heir to his promise.
Regardless of my sins or my weaknesses: I am a child of God.
Despite what others say or think about me: I am a child of God.
In the face of suffering, loss, and isolation: I am a child of God.
Whether I live in abundance or in need: I am a child of God.
Whatever my past looks like or my future holds: I am a child of God.
I am a child of God, and I will trust boldly in my Father’s love.
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