Daily Reflection
January 11th, 2003
Tom Shanahan, S.J.
University Relations
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I Jn 5:14-21
Ps 149:1-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b
Jn 3:22-30

Tomorrow the Christmas season ends with feast of The Baptism of Jesus.  On Monday the liturgical year once again returns to Ordinary Time.  This gives us an opportunity to assess what we have experienced of God and of Christ these past several weeks since Advent began and the various feasts of the Christmas season have been celebrated and are completed for now.

But many of us don’t like to do this kind of assessment because it brings up more of what we didn’t do (or learn or experience about God) than what we actually did experience of God’s love.  An exercise like this brings out the “glass half empty” in me and I don’t like the consequences of that very much. 

However, despite the “half-empty” penchant, I did have an opportunity to experience the presence of Christ on two different occasions: both in a sacramental context.  I had the honor to administer the sacrament of baptism to a beautiful child and the sacrament of anointing the sick to a man nearing death.  How wonderfully does our God work through simple signs and the Church’s consecrated words!  What a joy in encountering once again Christ present in us, the People of God.

At the end of the baptism of Will, a sweet child of three months old, his great-grandfather said to me, “we all ought to attend a baptism several times a year.”  The great-grandfather, after whom this beautiful child was named, was responding to the words, the sacramental actions, the use of natural symbols (water, oil, candle, white garment).  All of this in the amidst about fifty proud parents, God-parents, family and friends as Will entered the church that these folks represented so well as they received him lovingly into their Catholic-Christian midst.

In today’s gospel reading we see an unusual scene: Jesus and the disciples baptizing people just as John did for so many, including Jesus Himself.  John is a significant figure for all of us – his, “He (Jesus) must increase, I must decrease” statement reminds us of where we need to be in regards to Christ and our service to others. For me this is a better place to be than in the quandary of whether things are half full or half empty!

Lord, God, teach us the wonderful lessons of your Incarnation.  Help us to grow in love, hope and faith as we continue to encounter you in Sacraments, in one another, and in the situations of life that surround us.  Thank you for the treasure of your love and grace for us.  Help us to know that in special times and in ordinary times that we need to look to you as the fullness of our lives.

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