Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Baptism of the Lord

Today's readings can be found here.

Today we celebrate Jesus's baptism and the beginning of His public life. If we were hearing the story of Jesus for the first time, we might wonder what that child of God would do with his life. We heard of his miraculous birth, visitation by three kings, escape into Egypt, an ordinary life of pilgrimage as a teen, getting “lost” in the temple. When we listen to the story, he grows older and older. Today, we would be on the edge of our seats with anticipation wondering, “When will he act? He's a grown up already! What will come of his life?”.

When Jesus meets with his cousin John at the river, we've already heard about John, too. We know John was born to woman who was supposedly barren after an appearance of an angel, his father went mute during the gestation, John jumped in the womb when he was in the presence of Mary, pregnant with Jesus. As an adult, John preached far and wide, lived as a wild man in the desert living off of locust and honey. Both men were born under stupendous circumstances and amazing blessings.

When they meet at the river, we know something miraculous is going to happen. John had been baptizing people and saying that one mightier than him would come. Jesus arrives, is baptized and begins praying. The heavens open up and and the Holy Spirit gently descends upon him and a voice is heard, proclaiming that Jesus is God's son and has pleased God.

At this point, we should be on the edge of our seats! It is time for Jesus to begin doing whatever it is that he will do! If this is our first time hearing this story, we wonder, what will he do? The first reading, from the book of Isaiah, gives us our answer. In this reading, God names his servant, with whom he is pleased, just like we heard at the river after Jesus' baptism! Then, we hear what Jesus will do, why he has come to this earth. God says that he will peacefully bring justice to the nations. He is sent to bring light, open the eyes of the blind and free the captive. He is sent as a covenant to the people. Jesus is a promise of peace between God and man.

Fortunately this isn't the first time we have heard this story. We know the covenant between God and man is played out daily at Mass in the sacrifice of Jesus' life on the altar. His life and blood are poured out so that we might live in peace with ourselves and others, freed from sin. We are the captive who needs to be freed. We are the blind who need to see. We are in darkness and should look to Him for the light.

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