Is. 42:1-4, 6-7; Ps. 29; Acts 10:34-38; Lk. 3:15-16, 21-22
(Audio recorded live, 9 January 2022)
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, which marks the conclusion of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. The season really flew by this year. Perhaps it is a sign of how busy we all are. Busyness is one of the hallmarks of being American, isn’t it? We love to be busy. I say, to each their own. But, sometimes it is good to take time to unwind and to reflect. The Baptism of the Lord is the kind of day that invites us to reflect on the life of Christ as well as our own lives.
The prophet Isaiah speaks of how the spirit of the Lord will be upon his chosen one, and he shall bring forth justice to the nations. St. Peter speaks of the anointing of Jesus, how he was filled with the Holy Spirit and power, going about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil. And St. Luke describes how the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form like a dove, as the voice from heaven said, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Every reading today points, in one way or another, to Jesus, who is God’s anointed.
This is worthy of reflection for a couple reasons: 1) because we see the fulfillment of prophecy in the testimony of St. Peter and the gospels, and 2) because we share in the baptism of Jesus through our own. In fact, we can say that as Jesus was baptized, he made holy the waters of baptism for all the baptized. The fulfillment of Biblical prophecy is an important reflection for us because it shows us that our faith in Jesus is not misplaced. Even John the Baptist says, “one mightier than I is coming….He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” The baptism of Jesus, therefore, is a model of the kind of baptism we have all received. It is not simply a washing, but rather, an indwelling of the Spirit of the Creator. And having been infused with the Spirit, we, like Jesus, get busy doing the work of God.
What is the work of God? Simply put, sanctification. As Jesus was a living, breathing, walking, and talking sign of God’s presence in the world, so too are we living, breathing, walking, and talking signs of Christ’s presence to one another. We tend to the needs of one another; we offer a shoulder to lean on; we encourage each other along the way. If that sounds too ideal, then I challenge everyone to consider what it means to be baptized, and the awesome significance it had for Jesus. After receiving the Spirit, Jesus went around preaching, teaching, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Are we not also called to go around preaching, teaching, healing, and praying against evil? God has given us this blessing, and we have been entrusted to use it well, for the good of all.
So, as we continue to reflect upon the significance of the baptism of Jesus, and through him our own baptism, may the communion we share unite us in the Spirit that the good we do may carry over to our neighbor and we may busy ourselves with the busyness of God: loving, teaching, healing, consoling, and encouraging one another each day.