Read the Homily

At the baptism of Jesus, the heavens open and the Father declares, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” I have a question. What did Jesus do before his baptism? What did he do before multiplying the loaves, before walking on water, before curing the man born blind? Where was Jesus and what he doing before his baptism? Luke’s Gospel tells us Jesus returned to Nazareth where he grew in wisdom, age, and grace.  

At my graduation, they gave me a blank rolled up paper. I had to drive to the other side of the campus to pick up my diploma. Princeton doesn’t give you a diploma because you have passed all your classes; they give you a diploma only when you have paid-in-full. Mom and dad waited in the car. When I got back to the car, my father was in the front seat looking at a map and my mother was in the back. I said, “Mom, do you want to see my diploma?” She took it and said, “Now I hope you are not going to turn into a know-it-all.” I turned around to assure my mother, “Mom, don’t worry, I will always be a big dummy; I will always be clueless.” Now, why would my mother say such a thing to me on my special day? I know why because I went to the school of Mary Grover. What exactly is the school of Mary Grover? It is this: “Always be humble.” Humble people are hungry to learn, humble people are generous and grateful. Humble people notice others.

When Jesus was twelve years old, Mary and Joseph found the boy in the Temple. THE TEMPLE. The temple is God the Father’s house, the place of great liturgies and biblical scholars. And Jesus was there listening and asking questions. What parents would not want their child to be accepted by the Harvard University of the ancient world? Yet Mary and Joseph take Jesus back to Nazareth. What is in Nazareth? It is the school of Mary. Where did you think Jesus learned to eat dinner with tax collectors and sinners, forgive them, and give them all a second chance in life? He didn’t learn that from the theologians in the temple. Where did Jesus learn to go to a synagogue on the Sabbath, take a woman who was crippled for over eighteen years and cure her? He would not learn that in the temple. Where did Jesus learn to take off his outer garment, put a towel around his waist and wash the feet of his disciples just hours before he died? Not at the temple. Where did Jesus learn to say from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” This was not learning from the temple, but wisdom from Nazareth, from the school of Mary. And what exactly is the school of Mary? It is the Magnificat: the humble will be exalted, and the lowly lifted up.

When Jesus was on the cross, he looked at His Mother and said, “Woman, behold your son.” Then he turned to the beloved disciple and said, “Behold your Mother.” Do you realize what Jesus just did? He just enrolled another student in the school of Mary. There will be another beloved son in the making.

In the school of Mary, we learn the patience of God the Father. In the school of Mary, we learn the forgiveness, the kindness, and the compassion of God the Father. In the school of Mary, we learn that we too are children of God and beloved. May the Father’s words at baptism of Jesus resound in us as we grow in wisdom, and age, and grace, “You are my beloved child in whom I am well pleased.”

Back to All Homilies