January 10, 2021
by Rev. Richard Gabuzda
Creighton University's Institute Priestly Formation
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Baptism of the Lord
Lectionary: 21

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Acts 10:34-38
Mark 1:7-11

Celebrating Christmas

Here is My Servant

Once again, the wonderful days of the Christmas season have filled us with confidence and hope through the Good News of the Gospel: “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.”  This Word is Jesus, born in a hastily improvised birthplace in Bethlehem, visited by Shepherds and Kings and raised in the obscurity of the backwater town of Nazareth.  These details remind us of the importance not only of the fact that the Son of God chose to become one with us in our human nature, but the way he chose to be one with us:  in simplicity, poverty, and obscurity.

Today’s Feast, marking the beginning of Jesus’ public life, does not veer from the course charted by the previous feasts.  Rather, it reinforces and deepens what we have seen of Jesus.  Jesus begins his public life in the humility of John’s baptism, in the guise of a servant.  Isaiah helps us see how he will appear, day after day, in the cities and villages of Israel: “. . . not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench . . .”

For sure, he manifests himself as one “anointed with the Holy Spirit and power.” Yet this manifestation of power does not call attention to itself, but rather shows him “doing good and healing all those oppressed by the Devil . . ..” And with this anointing he will appear in the form of a servant to the end, manifesting the immense power of divine love, by his death on a cross. 

How important it is that we fix our attention on the manner of his appearance.  At times, people of our day, much like the people of Jesus’ own day, seem to hope for a different kind of appearing, one that “fixes things” efficiently and quickly, that manifests power as we know it on earth:  forceful, loud, sometimes even crushing and violent.   We want our wrongs righted, one way or another!  But not this Servant, this Lord. And so, we have a choice to make:

Will we have the courage and the humility to right this world’s wrongs with him, his way?  Or will we choose the ways that seem more “expedient, effective, productive”? Let us walk in this new year, choosing him, choosing his way, so that we may be his instruments at work in the world.

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