This Gospel Narratives course with John Shea is continuing to have a big impact on me, and on the other students as well, I believe. I will search the web to see whether I can find any of the articles he has given us to read, and if I do, I will hot link them into my post, but if not, I can at least give the references so you can find them if you really want to.
Just from memory, one article talks about how Jesus came so that we might be saved, we believe this, but the Father's will and Jesus' intention is that we should enter into his own faith. He lived his life on display, as it were, at least to his disciples, and the Holy Spirit inspired the Gospels in order that in every generation, time, and place, all who hear the Good News might be drawn into Jesus' life and faith. To put it differently, Jesus wants us to enter into his Baptism experience and know as He knows that the Father loves us, loves me, and wants to find his pleasure in us/me. The Father's pleasure is that the world might enter into the union He intended human beings to have with Him when He first created us in Adam and Eve - the first man and woman - the first ones to have within them as their constituting identity a spirit, a soul in the image and likeness of God.
Jesus lived constantly in the insight of his Sonship in his Father, whereas we find it more difficult to abide in that insight, which is one important purpose of prayer for us - to dispose ourselves to be brought back into that insight. At times, we need help, the help and love of others, and especially their forgiveness. That was the whole point of Jesus' parable of the prodigal son. He came back to his father because he was starving, but had forgotten who he was. He had become identified with his failure, with his sin. He had become his sin and had lost who he was in his family and in his family's love.
So the father immediately called to the servants to rush out with the finest robe and put in on him as well as sandals, that these external signs of his dignity and place in the father's heart and in his family might jolt him back to the reality and insight that he was the beloved son of his father. At his Baptism, Jesus disindentified with sin, even though He was without sin, He affirmed his awareness and will of wanting to have nothing to do with sin and remain in his Father's love and will. The gates of heaven opened then not just for Him, but for all of us and for all time. The Father affirmed his love for Jesus and his pleasure in Him come to do his will and restore humanity to the Father's love.
The Father affirms his love for us as well. So the question is, have we fallen into identifying ourselves with our sin and failure, or do we enter wholeheartedly into our Baptism and disidentify ourselves with sin and identify ourselves with Jesus as sons and daughters of our loving Eternal Father? We have only to listen in prayer for his voice affirming his love for us, and like Jesus, be driven into the desert by the Spirit so that we can be tempted and see clearly all the things that we are not - that's what temptations are - things that we are not. Once we reject our temptations, the Spirit leads us back to the society of people, filled with his power. As Jesus said, those who believe in Him and are united to Him will do even greater things than He did, because it's really not about results or external manifestations, rather, it's about the Father finding pleasure in our union with Him in Jesus and then being able to think in us, speak through us, and act in us. As St. Paul said, it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us.
From a Catholic point of view, this is the kind of insight that we want to bring to our celebrations of Penance and Reconciliation, so that everyone there would really want to disidentify with their sin and failure and be reaffirmed in their identity and dignity and freedom to love as sons and daughers of God.
To be continued.