Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Liturgically, we move quickly from the scenes of Jesus’ birth. At times, we might wish to linger a little longer with the comfort and experiences of the wonderful days just past.
The life, revelation and mission of Jesus extend the meaning of His birth. He was born that we might have life in and through Him. Last week we witnessed the Magi venturing towards Him and worshiping Him with gifts of worldly value. Today, He Who has come to serve and not be served receives His public anointing from the One Who sent Him.
In today’s First Reading, we hear the first of the prophecies about the coming Messiah as “Servant of the Lord.” Isaiah profiles some attributes of the Person Who will bring such life through being such a “servant.” This One in whom God is pleased, will not be like other pretenders who draw attention to themselves by shouting, and rolling about. This Servant will tend to the needy and labor for the justice which flows from the holiness of God.
The prophet then speaks the words of God directly to the Servant, claiming Him as ordained by God to bring peace, freedom and light into the darkness of creation.
Today we will hear Jesus’ being baptized. This has more to do with the renewal of the original creation than anything to do with “Original Sin.” The Spirit hovered over the chaos in the Genesis account of God’s creating the world. From this in-spiration came form and time as well as human harmony.
When Jesus submits to John’s baptism, by His going down into the waters of the Jordan, Jesus allows the law to be complete; it is the end of the pre-Messiah age. He rises back to the land and the same Spirit hovers over Him to initiate a new age of restoring form within time and harmony within the human relationship with God and with each other. He is designated as The Servant of the Lord with all the duties, burdens, and consequences of this ordination.
Jesus begins going public and persistent. In the weeks to come we will hear His calling to us to return to harmony, trust, and the blessedness which comes from accepting God’s being pleased with us, in Christ.
Imagine yourself at a busy airport and, though in most airports one can never hear anything that is being announced, you hear your name being paged. This happened to me in the Minneapolis airport. I felt excited and kind of important until I found out it was a spoof. One of my fellow Jesuits saw me walking down the concourse and he thought he’d get me excited and feel important. While I was dialing the phone he came up behind me and grabbed the receiver. He said that he knew I would like hearing my name announced in public.
In our own baptisms, we receive several things. Our name, freedom from Original Sin, entrance into the Christian Community, and our personal entering into Christ’s mission. This is our true excitement and importance, that our names and persons are called and not as a joke. We enter into His bringing harmony into this world of chaos. Entering the Christian Community folds us into the people of God; I become part of a “we.” In a spiritual way, through that same baptism, “we” are incarnated into our being an “I," who has a particular participation in the ministry of Jesus. He became one of us to make us one with Him. Each of us has her or his name pronounced to extend Christ’s servanthood. Our own personal chaos is hovered over by the creative Spirit of God and so becomes part of God’s revelation.
Jesus was born that we might have life, but life in Him is our entering
more deeply the mission of bringing order out of chaos within ourselves
and between and among others. In the weeks to come we will hear Jesus’
beginning the formation of those who will come to believe in their being
in Christ. We will begin hearing our names being called to extend
His being Servant of the Lord, in whom God is well pleased. This
is no spoof, but our holiness which began with our being baptized and continues
with our coming up and out on the land and serving His family.
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