Who am I?
that is a basic fundamental question that every human being has to work through, what is my identity.
As adults, that question may come close to the heart with the other one “what do you want to do when you grow up?” when we wonder have we actually found the answer to that question.
Many times we define ourselves through employment:
– I am a pastor, a teacher, an engineer, a technician, a consultant, a student, a firefighter, a retiree or unemployed.
We also define ourselves through the roles we fill:
– I am a father, mother, son and daughter, grandparent, aunt…
And we define ourselves by our physical attributes:
– tall, skinny, heavy, short, lean, muscular, petite…
Sometimes there are circumstances that try to define us:
– cancer, illness, trauma, violence, hurt, but they are not who we are
and our beliefs define us as well:
– moral, Christian, patriot , believer
as well as our family of origin and locale:
– us citizen, irish, Italian, german, portugese.
But in all of those things there is so much about who we are that changes as we walk through life. Career paths change, needs of children are different as they become adults, we lose and gain weight, events happen that reshape our understanding of ourselves and our place in this world. And when those life changes occur and throughout our lives the change is hard and we wonder sometimes if we knew ourselves at all.
And while so many would agree that flexibility in facing the changes in life is key to making it through is there anything solid for us to stand upon, a sure footing where in the myriad changes and chances of life we can find a place that doesn’t change, a place to call our own, to be ourselves. An identity that I can be sure of not matter what changes around me, in me, on me or by me that will never change?
Believe it or not, this question of identity is the main point of our Gospel lesson today from Matthew where we have the picture of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. As John was baptizing many in the waters of the Jordan river for repentance of their sins and bringing them into the kingdom of God Jesus Christ comes to be baptized as well. For John, this made no sense at all. This was Jesus Christ, the son of the living God, the Savior of the World, if anyone was in the kingdom of God it was Jesus because was the kingdom of God. So why, would Jesus want John to baptize Him? John even says, no Jesus, you’ve got it all wrong, I need to be baptized by you!!! Then Jesus responds with this almost cryptic-feeling answer:
“Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”
Jesus, at that moment in time was revealing Himself not as God from on high filled with power and might, the very word of God that created the Heavens and the Earth, but as the babe born in the manger, the suffering sacrifice, the sinless one who would bear the sins of the world upon the cross.
His identity as our savior that would lead to the cross and the empty tomb was marked in that baptism, this is who He was and through his works upon the cross we too would be given an identity as well, not one that is defined by the world around us but by God and his love for us. Our identity leads us to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. He leads us through the waters of baptism so that we can be given a new name- the name of beloved son and daughter of God with whom He is well pleased because of Jesus. He leads to bear our own crosses for His sake and He leads us to rise with Him through the empty tomb of Easter to the glory of a new life in Heaven. Because this is where Jesus identity as our savior was named so our identity as the ones to be saved start and are promised here in the waters of baptism.
Just as Jesus’ identity never changes, he is from eternity the son of God and the our Savior he brings each Christian into himself so that we too can have an identity that will never change no matter what happens in this life.
When St. Paul writes:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
he is telling us that our true identity, the solid footing and a place to call our own is found only in Jesus Christ and his eternal nature and this is all done in our baptisms. By God’s promise and power when we are baptized we are connected to Jesus, made part of His family which is God’s family and we are given a name and identity that never changes or can be taken away.
You are named “a baptized child of God” and called His own. For the sake of Christ, God’s only Son, when we are baptized into Jesus Christ, God calls us his children, and gives to us eternity with Jesus.The wonderful news of this message is that when God calls you His own in your baptism, it is a fixed point in time that never changes or can be taken away from you no matter whatever changes in your life:
You are a baptized child of God no matter if you are a
a pastor, a teacher, an engineer, a technician, a consultant, a retiree, umemployed
a father, mother, son and daughter, grandparent, aunt…
or if you are:
– tall, skinny, heavy, short, lean, muscular, petite…
– cancer, illness, trauma, violence, hurt, and even death happens
In any and all circumstances you are a baptized child of God, it is your identity, your security, your hope and your eternity. And it is the fixed point from which the rest of your life can flow, a life that can be lived not in fear of the changes of the world or in fear of losing our identity and who we are but a life of Joy knowing always who we are and who we belong to and where we are going eternally.
I am a baptized child of God.