January 19, 2020: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading: John 1:32-34
(taken from “The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language” by Eugene H. Peterson)
John testified further saying, “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him. I did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me. ‘On whomever you see the Spirit come down and remain, he is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God.”
Like most of us, I have heard this gospel proclaimed countless times. I have to admit that I often tuned it out because I just don’t like the image of a dove hovering over Jesus’ head. John has been watching for the Son of Man quite some time and he’s to know the Son of Man’s arrival by spotting a dove hovering over the head of someone he doesn’t know? Nope. Just didn’t work for me. Too fantastical, unlikely and unreal.
As Providence would have it, as I was reading this passage to write this reflection, I noticed two words that opened my mind and heart to this retelling of John’s experience — like and remain. “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven …and remain.” Perhaps, what John saw was with his heart and not with his eyes. Perhaps what John saw was a remarkable man, a man who consistently lived what he preached. Perhaps John saw into the heart of Jesus and somehow just knew he met the Long Awaited One and knew the presence of Jesus would remain with him forever. And not just with him.
Perhaps you have person whose presence remains with you no matter if they are near to you or far away. Call them to mind; spend some quiet moments giving thanks for them.