Saturday, January 11, 2014

01-12-2014 -- The Baptism of the Lord

January 12, 2014 - The Baptism of the Lord
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church

Shortly after being elected to the papacy, Pope John XXIII visited Regina Caeli, a large prison on the outskirts of Rome.

He told them, “I have come as Joseph your brother. I want my heart to be close to yours. I want to see the world through your eyes.”

Maybe his visit to the prison and his words to the prisoners is the closest we can come to understanding Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan.

John’s baptism was a baptism for the forgiveness of sins. But Jesus is the sinless one. He does not need this forgiveness.

Even though he is sinless, he plunges into the crowd of sinful humanity, being totally immersed in our human story.

Undergoing John’s baptism puts him in solidarity with those who do need forgiveness, that’s all of us.

God’s own Son came into our world as one of us. He associated himself with sinners. And was baptized by one of his own creatures.

John senses that this shouldn’t happen. “It is I who should be baptized by you.”

“Leave it like this for now.”

It is remarkable that Jesus should join this crowd of sinners. By his baptism in the Jordan he makes himself one with sinful humanity.

Up to this point we can understand.
But try to follow me here.

When Jesus comes up from the water a voice from heaven says, “This is my beloved Son.”

Now if Jesus, by accepting the Baptism of John becomes one with us, who are sinners, then God’s words are spoken not just to Jesus, but to all of us, who are one with him.

“You are my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased.”

This is the voice of God, the voice that has the power to create all things from nothing.

Do we hear the voice of God speaking to us?

The voice of God is not silent, but close to our ears, close to our hearts. Are we listening?

In Baptism we were identified as the children of God.
In Baptism we were anointed with the Sacred Chrism.

This anointing marks our souls forever, identifying us always as the brothers and sisters of the Lord Jesus.

It is a mark that cannot be removed by our sinfulness.

This identity calls us to change our ways.

This identity calls us to be more like Jesus, who St Paul says, went about doing good and healing those who were oppressed.

This identity calls us beyond ourselves to have greater care and concern for our brothers and sisters.

This identity changes us at the very core of our beings.
The prisoners rejoiced to see Pope John XXIII in their midst.

They were particularly moved by his reaction when one of their number, a murderer, fell on his knees before the Pope.

He cried out, “Holy Father, can there be forgiveness for the likes of me?”

Pope John raised the man to his feet and put his arms around him, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, embracing his wayward boy.

Like the action of Pope John XXIII, Jesus’ baptism carries a powerful message.

His plunging into the waters of the Jordan, shoulder to shoulder with sinners, makes him one with us.

He is our brother, our Savior, our friend.

The heavens open up and the Spirit descends in the form of a dove.

“You are my beloved Son.”

When Pope John embraced the murderer the message was the same.

When Saint Paul says that God anointed Jesus with power and the Holy Spirit, he is speaking about us too.

We are God’s beloved children. On us, God’s favor rests.

1 comment:

  1. Imagine being a witness to this Baptism. Beautiful, remarkable, stunning. Words can barely describe the importance. As always, Jesus shows us the way through both words and actions. Mary said at the wedding feast at Cana: "Do whatever He tells you." They did and Jesus' first recorded miracle occurred. St. John The Baptist did and we became part of Jesus and He one of us.

    Do whatever He tells you. He has a lot to say.