Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved (http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translations)
This weekend’s celebration of the baptism of Jesus brings us to the end of the Christmas season. It is a weekend of transition and change. As we take down the Christmas decorations and store away our Christmas “stuff,” there is an important question to ask in all this putting away of Christmas. Are you and I also putting on the shelf the spiritual and human gifts that we have treasured these weeks of Christmas and New Year’s?
Perhaps a relationship has been strengthened or maybe we had a conversation with someone that has kindled a new friendship or healed some hurt within our family circle. Could it be that God’s grace has given us new resolve, new possibility, new hope to move forward with a decision or project? However the gifts and graces of Christmas have stretched and renewed us personally, it is important that all of this grace and energy does not get hidden on some shelf deep down in our hearts.
It is precisely here that the feast of the Baptism of Jesus becomes important. This feast marks the moment when Jesus emerged from the relative quiet of his Nazareth routine. He becomes a more public figure. He accepts his mission as Redeemer and Messiah as he begins his ministry of teaching and healing, even as others only gradually come to understand what this acceptance means in the concrete.
The feast of the Baptism marks our own incorporation into the community of the Church. It says publicly that you and I will walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We will drink the cup that he drank. We will accept the inevitable dyings and risings of our own lives throughout the coming year with all the grace and insight and love that Jesus has taught us. The truth is that, where Jesus has gone before us, you and I are called to follow. As we believe, so let us live—steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love!
—The Jesuit Prayer Team
Lord, can the same words spoken to you at your Baptism be the message your Father speaks to us this day? “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” By God’s grace, we will listen for those words in the quiet of the evening and the quick pace of the day. Even if we waiver in our faith by doubting that we could be so loved, God will never withdraw his words. Lord, strengthen our trust in believing that your Father will continue seeking us, waiting patiently for us, and calling out to us, “My Beloved.”
—The Jesuit Prayer TeamPlease share the Good Word with your friends!