Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus makes his way to John the Baptist and in a turn about, has John baptize him, the one who has come to save the world. John’s mind must have been reeling at the thought.
As someone who was baptized well into adulthood, I can tell you that even in the most normal circumstances, the process of baptism is life-altering. One enters into the life and death of our Lord in a way that feels in the end like a great weight is removed from one’s heart.
I think the best explanation of what that feels like is akin to the first reading in today’s mass, Is 40: 1-5, indeed what is said in Mt 3:3 is from this passage in Isaiah.
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall befilled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
For in our baptism, indeed we feel the sudden peacefulness and the sudden comfort of a great weight lifted from us. The Spirit of God has come upon us, and now our way is easy. We have the help of God. Our mountains and hills of life are made low, the turns of twists of everyday life are made plain, the world is no longer a desert of dry day-to-day purposelessness, but is a fertile world of joy and bounty.
Hope is ours, peace is ours, joy is ours. Of course that doesn’t end our ups and downs in life, but it does give a structure to them that makes sense. We can place the inevitable woes of life into perspective. We know who we are and what we are and where we are going. That is our rock and upon it we place all the vicissitudes of life, knowing that all shall work out for good in the end.
It is unfortunate that most people experience baptism as an infant, I think. They are of course unaware of what has happened to them, and they miss this wonderful experience of awe and wonder which comes from a mindful understanding of what is occurring.
Yet our experience of remembrance of the Lord’s baptism is our time to recall the gift given us by a loving and gracious God. In placing ourselves in that place and time, we can but imagine the awe that overcame those in attendance. Imagine if you can some mighty movement of the heavens, sufficiently impressive to get your attention and cause you to gaze upward in expectation and wonder.
Imagine the breaking of the clouds and of it a dove descending. Imagine if you can the voice deeply moving in your heart which spoke, “You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased.”
Or is it that we hear but faintly within “you are my beloved daughter, with you I am well pleased.” Is that the echo we truly hear when we contemplate this wondrous event that is the centerpiece of our faith–Jesus Christ.
Let us make it a regular practice to recall this time, this lifting of the burden of going it alone that so plagues us and so limits us. It is that which makes us stubborn and selfish, angry and short-tempered. We are not meant to be solitary creatures. We are made for community. The first community we enter is that of the Trinity.
Come, let us rejoice, for like Jerusalem as Isaiah told us,
Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
- A Sermon on Luke 3:15-17, 21-22: The Baptism of Jesus (interruptingthesilence.com)
- The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (swordsoftruth.com)
- Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (prepareformass.wordpress.com)
- January 13th 2013 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (catholicjules.net)
- Baptism of Jesus: Moment of Grace for us (junjunfaithbook.com)
- Excellent Sermon on the Feast of the Second Epiphany of Christ (supertradmum-etheldredasplace.blogspot.com)