On New Year's Eve, Daniel was in no shape to drive, so he sensibly left his van in the car park and walked home. As he was wobbling along, a police officer stopped him. 'What are you doing out here at four o'clock in the morning?' asked the police officer. 'I'm on my way to a lecture,' answered Daniel. 'And who on earth, in their right mind, is going to give a lecture at this time on New Year's Eve?' the cop asked. Daniel slurred and said, “My wife.”
No one wants to be alone. Baptism gives us a reason why we should not be alone. When Jesus decided to start his ministry, he began by connecting and relating with us. He asked John to baptize him. By submitting himself to baptism, he gave us two reasons why he came, lived and died for us.
These are the same reasons why His Father sent him, why He agonized over his death and why the Spirit continually purifies us. These are the same reasons why we have Christmas, Good Friday, Easter and Pentecost. These reasons are Love and Forgiveness.
Love gave us life. Forgiveness keeps us living. Love conquers death. Forgiveness keeps us from dying. Love gave us Jesus. Jesus keeps on forgiving.
The opposite of love is not hatred. It is pride. Pride broke down the relationship between God and Adam. Pride brought Eve to blame her husband. Pride slithered in the eyes of the serpent that kneeling before its Creator was not an option.
In order to enter God's kingdom, we have to bow humbly before God. Humility is the mother of all virtues and we have seen that ourselves in the way the baby Jesus manifested himself. Not even in the comfort of an inn, but in the inconvenience of the manger was he born. Not even in the comfort of a room, but in the coldness of a cave did he first breathe human air. And not even in the glorious city of Jerusalem, but in the humble enclaves of Nazareth did he live.
Pride takes us away from being good and from loving God. With pride come jealousy, envy and distrust. Pride leads us to think more of ourselves and less of others. Pride stokes the fire of our selfish Egos. And pride leads us to a place where kindness does not exist, generosity has no place and love is not present. That place is also called Hell.
The opposite of forgiveness is not unforgiveness. It is self-righteousness. The Pharisees were the class of people strongly condemned by Jesus. They think they had the easy way to heaven because they knew the law. They think they had the monopoly of holiness. They think they were above everybody else and their feet did not stink. Were they grossly mistaken.
We are all children of the same God. Being a member of God’s religion is not a guarantee for salvation. Popes or panhandlers, bishops or beggars, priests or paupers, we are all equal before God. No one can be sure of the reward or the punishment God has in store for those he created.
There is no reason to be alone, especially on New Year’s Eve. There is no reason to be lonely. In Christ, we became brothers and sisters, connected and related to each other. By our baptism in the water and the Spirit, we are one family.
9 January 2011