I remember my first real job very well. I was 14 years old and I was hired at a local pizzeria. My mother dropped me off for work on my first day and I remember thinking to myself, what have I got myself into? I had no idea about how to make a pizza let alone a pizza that others would pay to eat. Jim, the manager, took me under his wing and started from scratch teaching me how to make dough, how to stretch it, and how to use the different tools to make the best pizza I could. Soon enough that training paid off and I was in charge of the entire process from dough making to the finished product. It took alot of listening, practice and a great coach to provide the training.
Training is important in all facets of life including our spiritual life. In the second reading from Titus, we read “the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and wordly desires and to live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age.” Titus outlines that the Grace of God arrives with its own training instructions. However, we have to listen, practice and allow ourselves to learn from the training. How can we listen? We can read the Word in Scripture. We can listen in prayer. We can listen to our pastors and the people in our Church community. How do we practice? We pray incessantly. We pray in community. We listen to Christ as we contemplate our relationship with the Lord. Finally, how can we learn from the training? We can open our hearts to the grace of God and respond with our love to the Father. We can live as joyful missionary disciples and spread the Good News.
When does this training start? Many will say it begins at Baptism. At our Baptism, we are reborn with Christ and God claims us as his own adopted children. In the Gospel reading from Luke this week, we read of the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus is baptized by John and a voice came from heaven saying “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Lord claims Jesus in front of John and all of the onlookers. Sound familiar? The Lord claims all of us on the day of our Baptism. We accept his Grace, a gift given out of love and a gift we do not deserve, and begin our “training” with the Lord. It is our turn to listen, practice and learn. By listening, we keep ourselves holy and run from anything that leads us away from the Lord. By practicing, we pray and prepare for the Lord’s glorious return and find enjoyment in the grace of God. Finally, by learning from the training, we live as God’s children and witnesses to the love of our Savior Jesus Christ.