January 11, 2015: Baptism of the Lord
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:7-11)
This feast of the Baptism of Jesus closes the Christmas Season and moves us toward “Ordinary Time.”
Jesus has come among us to live and work and experience both the joys and the sorrows that every human must face. We celebrate that coming of Jesus in the very fiber of all Creation, and in the beating of our hearts, as well.
John the Baptist was said to be a cousin of Jesus, a wild man of sorts. Not a likely candidate to baptize the Savior. This story of Mark has been a mystery of sorts for Theologians across time. Why would Jesus choose to be baptized at all? Why by John?
John the Baptist was a controversial figure, on the margins if you will. But then, Jesus put himself on the margins when he told slaves they could be free, told women they mattered, told the sick they deserved to be healed, and talked, ate and prayed with those considered sinners or misfits. In this context, John’s baptizing Jesus makes more sense. Jesus’ Baptism affirms that baptism brings each one of us into relationship with each of the others, and not just the cream of the crop! We belong to the whole Body of Christ. Our Baptism, too, demands that we take seriously our “immersion” into the reality around us, and calls us to listen intently to the call of our own baptism: to love God, to love ourselves, and to love each other in the context of Christian Community.
Choose a symbol that has meaning for you, perhaps crossing yourself with water or oil, as a reminder that our Baptismal promises continue to call us to be immersed in the mystery of Jesus’ presence in our hearts and in our lives. Our place in the community of Christians, given to us by our Baptism, calls us to take actions on behalf of the community. The needs that Jesus saw, and responded to in the early church are still, with us today.
God of the “Water of New Life,” help me to see them.