The Baptism of the Lord

Today’s celebration presents Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River. The celebration marks the end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. It is the only Sunday of the year that belongs to two seasons. Why? This feast belongs to two seasons because it is the beginning. Jesus accepts His ministry, His reason for being. This is the beginning of the teaching, preaching and healing that make up the public ministry of the Lord[1].

The ancient Christian witnesses see a great significance in this particular Epiphany or showing of the Lord. The words of the Father, the presence of the Holy Spirit, demonstrate God’s action among His people. Jesus in His human nature has accepted the plan devised by the Father to care for his people.

Yet the crucial question in the story remains: How does this apply to us? Simply this: This Sunday leads us to consider God’s plan for our lives and how well we allow this to combine with our own plan for our lives.

Most of us grew us with goals and ideal we wanted in life. Maybe we wanted to go to college and get a great job and then get married and raise a beautiful family. Maybe some of us wanted to enter into a life of service to the Lord and to his people. And this is good, all good. This is sacrificial love. Your love of sacrifice for others, your spouse or your children, is itself the very existence of God’s love in your home, your little church.

Sometimes we ask ourselves questions whose answers are beautifully obvious: Why was I created? Or what is God’s plan for me? His plan is that you and I make a difference in the world by gifting the world with a unique reflection of His Love that only each of us could provide.
You and I are not mere numbers in a vast planet of people, perhaps even in a vast universe of rational creatures. You and I are much more than this, infinitely more than this. You and I are Christians. We are lovers, Divine Lovers. We love the Divine and the Divine loves through us. We exist to love, to love God with our whole mind, heart and soul and to love others as God loves them.

There are people in the world who will meet God by meeting you. There are people in the world who will meet God by meeting me. They are people who are searching. They are searching for meaning in life. They are searching for reasons behind their joy and pain, their sadness and hurts. They seek lasting happiness. They search for answers and they rely on us, you and me, to help them find these answers.

We Christians believe that life is not just a matter of biology. Life is not just a matter of survival. Life is not just a matter of chance. We Christians believe that life, authentic life, consists in serving God by making the Presence of Jesus Christ a reality in the lives of others.

That is why we embrace the work of the Lord until the last day we live. That is why each stage of our lives presents us with a challenge, a new way to serve the Lord.

We live for the Lord. We die for the Lord. We embrace the mission of the Father.

Today we join Jesus at the Jordan River. With Him we also accept the mission the Father has set aside for each one of us. And we thank God for making us part of His plan for His people.

My brother, my sister the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks Jesus’ initiation into public ministry. At his baptism Jesus is named the Beloved Son of God. With this celebration we recommit ourselves to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Initiated through our baptism we too are the Beloved of God, commissioned to proclaim Good News with our lives ■

[1] The Baptism of the Lord. Readings: Isa 40:1-5, 9-11, Ps 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29b-30, Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7, Luke 3:15-16, 21-2.

Ilustration: The Tintoretto, Baptism of Christ, 1579-81, Oil on canvas, Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris