We enter the Christian community through baptism. We enter this new year of gathering together as that community by our being offered the feast of celebrating the baptism of Jesus. While within the influence of the Christmas graces, we are being introduced to Him as alive and beginning His New Year.
We prepare for this celebration by recalling our own and our deep desires to be a part of His growing up. Each of us who will be at the Eucharistic gathering has been on the same journey from baptism through growing up and out. Much is asked of us and we in turn ask much of God Who calls us. We pray for the simplicity of heart which is cleansed and inspired through water and the Holy Spirit. We may pray with the events of living that New Life and how we have extended the New Light through our years.
The white garment may be less white as it and we grow older, but the same cleansing water and hovering Spirit are re-available in the community. We can pray to renew our spirit of trying.
Our First Reading is the first of the four Servant Songs from the Book of Consolation, aka Second Isaiah. Israel as a nation is referred to also as the Servant of the Lord. What we hear seems to be an exact prediction of a special person of history who will assist God in caring for the people and nation of Israel itself. This person will have God as his support. This person will have qualities of justice, calmness of spirit and action.
There is a strong sense of the messiah in this reading. Justice will be his theme and by his teaching those physically and spiritually blind will see and those in various conditions of confinement will be liberated. All the songs, poems, predictions and reflections of these chapters from Second Isaiah are meant to encourage the people to have hope as they wait for freedom from exile. Here they are inspired by the prophet who tells them of a coming of a someone who will actually bring justice, hope and freedom to their lives.
The Gospel is the first person-to-person meeting described in scripture between John the Baptist and Jesus. They had met womb-to-womb when Mary visited John’s mother, Elizabeth. John here is carrying out his mission of righteousness by pouring the water of purification upon those seeking cleansing in the Jordan.
Jesus presents Himself for this ministry and John wants Jesus to not ask for baptism. John is not worthy, but Jesus asks to have the law fulfilled.
When the Law has been fulfilled and Jesus emerges from the waters of the Law, Jesus sees and hears Who He is to the Father. He is the one in Whom the Father is well-pleased. It is now public and God’s Spirit will urge Him to His staying faithful to this New Law of living according to the Spirit. His identity will be challenged and others will doubt, but Jesus Himself will not shout out in the streets, but present the gentleness and justice of God. He will not quench the small flames nor bruise a tender reed, but give breath and life for the light and life of all.
As it happens, this very weekend, I am privileged to celebrate with my family of origin and their families, a baptism of a newly-born little Irish girl into our family and her church. She is a joy to her parents and grandparents especially. We will renew our vows and hopefully our own spirits of trying. We will pass the child around the family circle and each will pray a special prayer of welcome and blessing. We have done this before and as I listen to each of my family member’s wish and prayer, I sense, knowing as I do each person, that this is also a prayer for themselves. One will wish that Norah be a person whom others will find a peaceful place. My Doctorate-brother might pray that she grow in wisdom and lead others by that wisdom to a sense of justice. My fun-loving brother, (aka Uncle Funny) will pray a sincere prayer that she bring light and life into the lives of all who meet her. See, they are praying, not so much for her, nor for the persons they want to be, but for themselves as they really are and as others find them. It seems that what is important to who we are, we pray that same grace for others and that our graces be used well.
We are baptized into Jesus’ being the Beloved of the Father. We are equally baptized into our being sent to extend Jesus’ life and Spirit into this world. The likelihood is that we are already living that grace. We always want more of all good things. We want more of God’s good spirit. We have been immersed in it and it is good on this day of Jesus’ Baptism to reflect on the truth of how we are extending His Light, hearing and speaking His goodness and keeping our garments clean. We are invited to hear ourselves what Jesus heard from the day of His baptism until His death, we are beloved and God is well-pleased with us as we try.
“The Lord will Bless His People With Peace.” Ps.29
Collaborative Ministry Office