January 13, 2019
by Mary Lee Brock
Creighton University's Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Baptism of the Lord
Lectionary: 21

Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7 or Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalms 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 or
Psalms 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30
Acts 10:34-38 or
Titus 2:11-14; 2:4-7
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Praying Ordinary Time

WWJD  What Would Jesus Do?  In the 1990’s this acronym became a part of popular culture.  People sported WWJD bracelets as a reminder to use Jesus as a guide for their behavior.  Regrettably the true meaning of  WWJD dissipated as adaptations became popular.  And I must admit I was guilty in this wave as I looked to people in my life I admired by asking WWAD?  What would Al do regarding a home repair? Or WWKD What would Katherine do regarding a caretaker task?  WWDD?  How would Debra gracefully respond to a challenge?  I had not thought about WWJD? “movement” until I began reflecting upon the gospel from Luke.

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.  This is a beautiful culmination of the Christmas season during which we have been praying about the incarnation of God becoming human in the birth of the baby Jesus for the purpose of our salvation. 

As I read Luke’s gospel I am overwhelmed by the deep faith of the people who followed John to the river to be baptized.  I am moved by their quiet hope and curiosity:  The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ.

John clarifies his role and assures the people that Christ is coming by telling them:
"I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."

But rather than arriving in a blaze of glory, the 30 year old Jesus quietly gets in line with the others and gracefully asks John to baptize him.  From the beginning of his public ministry Jesus provides a template of how we should live with humility.  I wonder how I might have reacted when as Jesus was praying after being baptized by John I see the Holy Spirit in a the form of a dove and hear the voice of from heaven proclaiming: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."

Reflecting upon the baptism of Jesus invites me to learn more about the sacrament of baptism.  It was so important to me to have my daughters baptized and I always take the renewal of my baptismal promises seriously, yet I feel eager to learn more. 

The United States Catholic Bishops developed a guide about the Sacraments and Social Mission that helped me deepen my understanding about and my excitement for my baptism.  I am reminded that baptism reveals the equality and dignity of each member of the community, leads us to imitate Christ’s example, makes us disciples to the world and baptism requires us to reject sin and evaluate our values, decisions and lifestyles.

I pray with these questions:  How have my actions demonstrated my faith?  Have I considered all people, especially my rivals, to be members of our community?  What are some obstacles in my life that keep me from Jesus?  How can I be generous with my spirit? And the most simple, yet centering question:  WWJD?

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