It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Imagine for a moment the Baptist crying out in the desert, “I love you just the way you are”. Or the Lord simply telling the multitude in his Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard it said ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’; but I tell you now, I love you just the way you are.” It definitely would have been a much shorter homily than the one we have received. If all the above had occurred, then the disciples and the multitude might as well have all gone home, for there would be no reason for the Baptist to baptize; no reason for the Apostles to evangelize, and no worthy reason for the Son of God to have died on the cross.
To say to someone, “I love you just the way you are” is just another way of saying, “I love for being mediocre.” You may remember the song “I love you just the way you are” from Billy Joel. I think he may have written it for his children or for his wife, Christie Brinkley. As with most things in life, mediocrity leads to a loss of interest, which leads to a sort of wandering, which leads to change; even a change in wife!
I know far too many parents that repeat these words to their children. I wish I was a sociologist. I would love to see the effect it had on them. From my own personal experience, I can tell you that the results are very impressive, so much so, that I would discourage any parent from ever telling their children these harmful (at worst) or meaningless (at best) words. I can assure you that your kids know what I am talking about.
I know for one that if my parents had told me this, then I would not be half the man I am today. Of course, I am still working on the other half and there is still much more to do. And that is the point: they reminded me that I could always sacrifice a little more, help a little more, work a little more each day. And I knew that I could! Do you think that you could never be a little more loving, a little more forgiving, a little more giving than yesterday? God never told his prophets, his patriarchs, or his martyrs that he was pleased with them until they rested with Him: “Well done good and faithful servant.” The Son of God, at the river Jordon, is the only person the Father ever said, “I am well pleased with you.” And it was for a good reason: God loves a humble man. The only time the Lord told his Son, “I am pleased with you” is when the Lord humbled himself among sinners. That’s a lesson for all of us.
May we all live up to our baptismal promises of being a King, Prophet and Priest for the Lord. May we all humbly acknowledge our failures and ask the Lord for pardon and grace.
“Give to the Lord, you sons of God, give to the Lord glory and praise, give to the Lord the glory due his name; adore the Lord in holy attire” (Ps 29). Amen!