After the Lord was baptized, the heavens were opened, and the Spirit descended upon him like a dove,
and the voice of the Father thundered: This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased. Matthew 3.16-17
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.” Mark 1.10-11
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.” Luke 3.21-22
With the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord and our entry into “Ordinary Time,” I am struck by the passage of the liturgical seasons, especially as we have been wrestling with the pandemic. We are fast approaching the first anniversary when we were forced to close during Lent and it is becoming increasingly likely that we may have to shut down for a period while we await the positive change that is coming with the vaccine. Shutting down will not mean we are giving up or going into hibernation. It will mean that we are regrouping and preparing ourselves for the long-haul.
The Baptism of the Lord which we will celebrate this weekend takes on special significance this year. As with all things that bear repeating, I have included three accounts. In all four Gospels, the Baptism of our Lord announced and began the public ministry of Jesus. We have all grown up with the understanding that infant baptism, in particular, not only places the child into our community of faith but it also wipes away original sin. For Jesus, as an adult without the blemish of sin, this would appear to be unnecessary. Perhaps unnecessary for Jesus the Christ but so important for us as we see our Savior fully immerse himself, literally and figuratively, into our humanity. Our God chose to be “one with us.”
The pandemic has immersed us into the fragility of human life while at the same time raised our consciousness to appreciate the heroes in our midst who have answered the call to service, often at risk to their own selves. We have seen people bless us in profound ways, not afraid to speak the truth and truly guide us as servant leaders. Whether they are Catholic, or Christian for that matter, they are living out what we have long identified as our baptismal call as priests, prophets and kings.
The threefold ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ came into full focus at His baptism. In John’s Gospel which focuses on a “Higher Christology,” it is revealed through the testimony of John the Baptist. In the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, we witness the actual baptism and the outpouring of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It is a moment when Jesus the Christ answers the call for all of us. It is also done in the context of great love and true joy.
As brothers and sisters, all of us our loved by God and all of us are pleasing to the One who created us, guides us, and inspires us. All of us have a participation of the threefold ministry of Jesus and are called to serve in specific ways. May we inspire each other in this difficult time to bless, proclaim the Good News and serve one another with care and patience. We do so as we continue to pray for one another. Ultimately that is how we best answer the call of our baptism.
From the bottom of my heart and from the depth of my soul, I want to thank the entire community for your love, support, and prayers for me and for all of us. This has not been an easy time but it has been filled with grace and consolation. I am blessed to be a part of your lives. You are beloved by me and with you I am well pleased. God bless you.
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