Monday, January 11, 2010

Baptism of the Lord - homily

Have you ever noticed that whenever we look forward to something in a really big way, when we have high expectations for something, it often doesn’t meet our expectations? For example, let’s say you all had big expectations for your winter break; and I hope you all had a great break. Let’s say you were thinking it would be a great time seeing friends, hanging out with everyone home…that it would be an amazing three weeks. Well, you’re sitting here tonight looking back on it, thinking, ‘it was good but it wasn’t all that’. The opposite happens often too. Let’s say you weren’t setting the bar real high for the break and it turned out to be really good. It’s an interesting dynamic between our expectations of something and the way it actually happens.

We hear in today’s Gospel that the people were “filled with expectation”. They set the bar very high and were really excited. And, this is all for John the Baptist. People were thinking that John was the man. They thought he was the Christ because of the way he spoke – he spoke with great authority – and the way he acted. They thought he was a man sent by God to be the Christ. Now, the thing about John is that he was very humble. He immediately responded to all of this saying that he was not the Christ and that another was coming after him who was “mightier than I”.

A modern analogy for us – this would be like all the expectation and hype for Tiger Woods (before all the stuff starting at Thanksgiving). For so long, we’ve been setting the bar so high for Tiger, saying basically, ‘ you’re the man. You’re the greatest golfer in the world. You’re the greatest athlete in the world.’ Now, imagine if Tiger at one point said, “there is one coming after me who is better than I am”. We would be blown away with expectation, wondering ‘how good is the next guy going to be?’ We would set the bar so high for the next guy because we had already set the bar so high for Tiger.

We do this with people. We set the bar so high for them and set ourselves up for disappointment. Sadly, people (like Tiger Woods) often don’t fulfill our expectations. We have all learned the tough lesson of disappointment through athletes, celebrities, priests, family members, friends, boyfriends, girlfriends, etc. We have learned to lower the bar with people because we realize they are not perfect. Regarding your expectations for a future spouse, you all would be wise to lower your expectations just a smidge. It’s wise to be realistic about him or her, not just idealistic.

There is one person for whom we can set the bar very high. There is one person from whom we can expect great things. There is one person about whom it’s realistic to be idealistic. That person is Jesus Christ. He has already met the very high expectations set for him. Remember: John the Baptist raised the already high bar for Jesus. And, looking at the body of work in the life of Jesus Christ, we see that Christ not only met expectations, he infinitely exceeded them. We see his miracles, healings, teachings, and the event that blows away all expectations: the Resurrection. Jesus Christ has the power and intention to do great things, not just for the people who lived 2000 years ago, but for us today.

As you begin a new calendar year and a new semester, Christ is asking each one of you to be filled with expectation…to be filled with faith…to be filled with great confidence in Him. He has great confidence in you and wants to do great things in your life. Expect Him to do great things. He is the one person in your life who will never disappoint you. He will never let you down. Set the bar very high for Christ. I promise you, He will do great things for you this semester, this year, and for the rest of your life.

Finally, whenever we come to Mass, we are filled with expectation that God will do
something great, primarily in the Eucharist. Jesus will be present on this altar under the signs of bread and wine. Where there is the Son, there is the Father and the Spirit. We will be in the presence of the Trinity, just like the crowd at the Baptism of Jesus was. But, it gets even better for us: we receive God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit in Holy Communion. This is the greatest thing that God will do for us this week and every week! May this Eucharist help us to be filled with expectation, to set the bar high, and to have confidence that God will do great things for us this semester, this year, and for the rest of our lives.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I am not a college student, I am the parent of one. The following excerpt from the book "Render Unto Caesar," by Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Denver, came to mind when I read the phrase about lowering one's expectations in a future spouse.

" A young woman once told me that she had dated several loyal men, but she was holding out for a faithful one. She made the right choice. Loyalty and fidelity are similar virtues, but they are not the same thing. The root of 'loyalty' is the French word 'loi' (law). The root of 'fidelity' is the Latin word 'fides' (trust). And real love, as every mature adult knows, is both beautiful and demanding. It has nothing to do with indulging or accommodating evil in the person or thing that is loved."

We would most likely agree that lowering one's expectations is far different than lowering one's standards.

Proverbs 31:10-12, also speaks to this and can be adjusted for gender.

"When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her has an unfailing prize. She brings him good and not evil, all the days of her life."