A few years ago, there was a movement to remove “paternalistic” language from the Bible. Some objected to calling God “Father” or “Son,” arguing that since some people had fathers who abused or abandoned them, calling God “Father” might be a barrier to faith. Others objected to certain passages that were used to marginalize women and minorities. The movement led to translations of the Bible that were more gender neutral. We still need to be sensitive to these concerns.
The problem with making things gender neutral is that you can neutralize the truth.
Now, my own father was not perfect. He could be moody, lose his temper, and boy, could he swear. Remember Ralphie’s old man in A Christmas Story?
But every day of his life, my father told me he loved me. It gave me confidence to go out into the world and meet life’s challenges. My heart goes out to everyone who has to face life without a loving father.
The Gospel writer Mark tells us nothing about Jesus’ birth. Mark begins with the fully grown Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. The heavens were torn open, and God said, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus had been one with the Father and the Holy Spirit for all time…they were loving each other before the creation of the universe. The persons of the Trinity are the essence and the source of pure love.
Yet Mark tells us that God the Father said, “I love you” to Jesus.
There is something in each of us that longs to hear our father say, “I love you.”
If Jesus needed to hear it, how much more do we need to hear it?
This is one great reason why Jesus was baptized: not just for his sake, but for ours.
In Baptism our heavenly father says to us, “I love you,” as he longs for the day when we will say to him, “I love you too.”