“Mom, can you snuggle?” It’s a familiar phrase at our house, especially at bed time. I give the older kids a long sweet hug, and for the younger ones, I crawl into their beds and cuddle up for a few minutes so they can feel my love just before they drift off to sleep. I do many types of loving things for my children behind the scenes, like meal planning, cooking, laundry, and organizing what they need for school, but for my children, there’s absolutely nothing that says I love you as much as the gift of touch.
Touch is vulnerable. It’s a very specific form of love reserved for the people we care about. We don’t just go around touching strangers. That’s because touch is tender. It says, “I want to be in relationship with you.” I still remember the butterflies in my stomach when that amazingly handsome man, who became my husband, first reached over to touch my hand. His tender touch was the expression of a unique love for me.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan river. This event is perplexing because Jesus, being sinless, did not need to be baptized. But Jesus chose to be baptized not only to identify with us, but in a special way, to touch the waters that would touch us. His baptism begins the whole plan of the Father to touch us with his love in a physical way through the sacraments. It was not enough for God to love us in the many ways he does behind the scenes—giving us life, guiding our lives by his providence. He wanted to touch us with his love in a vulnerable way.
He knows that I needed to be physically touched by his love in baptism as well as in confirmation. He knows that it’s not enough for my heart to think, “God out there somewhere will forgive me.” I need to hear with my own ears, “And I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father. . . ” He knows that the love I crave most of all is to be touched by the One who was for generations wholly untouchable, but in Christ, now becomes vulnerable for me: “Take. Eat. This is my body, which is given up for you.”
Today, I marvel at the mystery that God desires to touch me with his love. His touch says, “I want to be in relationship with you . . . And when you drift off to sleep, I want you to feel my love.“