Journey from Nazareth to the River Jordan Baptism
Guide: Jesus’ Journey into His Mission
We now return to contemplating the life of Jesus. We reflect on the two ways of desiring and three types of responses we have prepared to let Jesus show us his life. Our desire to know him more intimately, as we fall more deeply in love with him, is shaping our desire to be with him more completely in his mis¬sion. We have been drawn to ask more and more deeply that we might be given the graces to choose only and whatever is for the greater glory of God and the salvation of our souls.
The part of Jesus’ life we focus on this week is his journey from home into his mission. At some point, perhaps around the age of thirty, Jesus leaves Nazareth and goes down to the river Jordan, where John is baptizing. He enters the water and, against John’s reluctance, asks to be baptized along with everyone else. The heavens open and we hear God’s affirmation of him.
The material that follows will assist in getting started with this contemplation. All week we want to walk around in this scene in our everyday life. As we imagine Jesus leaving that little house in Nazareth, we have so many questions to ask. Why did he leave? What process of reflection, of freedom, led him to go? Can we imagine the farewells? What did people say to him? What did he say to friends, to relatives, to Mary? As he walks the roads down to the river where John was baptizing others, what is he thinking? What is he desiring, choosing, longing for? With what words is he praying? As he watches John baptize humble sinners, looking into their faces as they go into and come out of the water, what is he feeling? As Jesus wades into the river, deeper and deeper, and then is immersed in it, can I imagine what is streaming through his consciousness? Does he experience his own incarnation into the depth of our humanity? Does he imagine the surrender of his own desires to God’s spirit drawing him to complete emptying of himself for us? Does the picture of his being nailed to a cross to die flash before him? And when his face emerges from the water and God’s voice breaks through the clouds, what exhil¬aration, freedom, and peace fill his heart?
As we go through this week imagining parts of these scenes over and over, in the very midst of the movements of our everyday lives, we come to know Jesus and our own desires more deeply than we could have imagined. We come to see how familiar he is with our own struggles to respond to God’s call. How often this week will we leave one place we are at home for another place we know we must be? How often this week will a “yes” involve a deeper entry into a simple solidarity with all of humanity? Can some experience of my living out my own baptism this week allow me to experience deep intimacy with Jesus in his baptism?
We can end each day with a prayer of gratitude and personal conversation with Jesus, speaking our desire.
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