January 8, 2018
(The Baptism of the Lord)
(Had to chuckle at this. And there is probably some mathematical name for it. But today is 1-8-18. So happy 1818. If you add 1+8 + 1+8 you get 18. And if you add 1+8=9 plus 1+8=9 you get 1+8=9 . . . funny! And today’s Gospel just happens to be from the Book of Mark, Chapt 1: verse 8, hmmmmm!)
John the Baptist said, “I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” Mk_1:8
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Mk_1:9-11
Today marks the End of the Christmas Season in the liturgical calendar of the Church. And what better celebration for an END, than the Beginning of something New; especially in the Middle of an icy, damp and cold winter.
Yet, this new beginning is more than just the unwrapping of new undergarments beneath the boughs of an artificial tree. It’s more than just the beginning of a new job or a move to a new home. And it’s even more than the birth of a brand new grandchild. The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of a whole new Creation.
Theologically, Jesus is the new Adam, who brings a fresh, new start for every human being living in His time and born thereafter.
For, out of the darkness of a murky Jordan River, we move with Jesus into the Light of the Holy Spirit’s consecration (Death to sin and new life with Him!).
Out of the silence of Adam’s guilt and obscurity, Jesus moves us into the merciful and thundering ‘Voice of Affirmation,’ as sons and daughters of God (With all the grace of His forgiveness).
And, out of the darkness of sin and despair, Jesus offers us the Light of love and hope, and the promise of Eternal Salvation (Eternal Life).
In this third magnificent manifestation, of God’s immense love for us:
– from His Incarnation on Christmas morn,
– to His Epiphany as Savior of all Nations, beyond just Israel,
– and now in this Trinitarian revelation, in the Baptism of Jesus: we hear the voice of God the Father, we see the vision of God the Holy Spirit, as a dove, and we live in the presence of God the Son, as Jesus consecrates our humanity with His Divinity.
Now, all of these concepts may sound pretty theologically heavy to most of us. And we might still be wondering, “What does it all have to do with me?” I still have to go to work after Mass. I still have to fix that broken car. And I still have to figure out how I’m ever going to pay for all those Christmas gifts.
Well, if we have been baptized by this Trinitarian God, then we have also received His gift of the Holy Spirit within us.
And what that means, is that when we come to our wits end, and sit there wondering what’s next, we have a Source of peace, and calm, and wisdom sitting right there within
us, just for the asking. All the answers we ever need are right there – within our own selves.
And, I hate to surprise anyone, but our God is a whole lot more wise than any smart phone ever made.
And you know what? God has so many more manifestations, so many more epiphanies to show us, that we can’t even imagine them all.
And here’s just one silly example that I observed just this past Saturday evening. As I was sitting here in Church, and I’m sure some of you were too, listening to Kate and Christian’s beautiful Epiphany Concert, I was thinking how wonderful it is for all of those choir people to devote so much of their time to training and practicing to be able to sing so well for all of us.
And then I was thinking, well maybe, how lazy it was for me not to be up there singing as well.
And then the Holy Spirit gave me this Epiphany of how we are ALL doing something, in some way, to help build God’s Kingdom. It might be serving as a Hospitality or Eucharistic Minister. It might be counting money on Sundays. It might be watching a child so that a parent could do something they otherwise couldn’t. And it might even be JUST sitting out there watching (and supporting) people like Kate’s choir.
By our Baptisms, every single one of us – IS – that Child of God, who IS building His Kingdom, no matter WHAT we DO, no matter how insignificant we may THINK it is!
And together we ALL build up one another! Even just being right here reading these words of His encouragement to you, beloved.
Jesus came to prove that to us!
WE really DO matter!
And we ALL have the Holy Spirit within us to Affirm that fact,
saying: ‘These are My beloved sons and daughters, with whom I AM well pleased!’
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