THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
After the arrival of the Wise Men on the feast of the Epiphany on Friday we have come to the end of the Christmas season as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord when Jesus was baptized in the river Jordan by John. This feast is also a reminder to us of our own baptism, most of us were baptised when we were babies and today we recommit ourselves to the promises that were made on our behalf when we renew our Baptismal Promises..
The figure of the Baptist is mysterious and captivating. He was the Precursor of Christ, not only two thousand years ago but in a sense also in our day. He is the voice, which makes us hear the Word which introduces us to the mystery of the redemption, who helps us to respond to the call to conversion, with humility and love. He helps us understand that the human person, every person in front of the Lord Jesus stands before the greatest mystery of our existence: the Mystery God made man! Our own Baptism calls us and empowers us to be Christ like that is what the word Christian means. Our humility can openly declare our trust in God the Father. The great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas whose feast day is at the end of January spoke of times of grace when God enlivens people in special ways for different tasks and this is what baptism is all about the grace of god enlivening us to live out our new beginning living life as people who are Christians.
The Holy Spirit is the power behind all our spiritual beginnings, when we are willing to begin, God is there as the grace behind our going out into the sea of faith. There are beginnings that we know are important like baptisms, marriages and ordinations. We like to mark these beginnings as important, so we surround them with ceremony to give a sense of occasion and there is an atmosphere of rejoicing. The new beginnings that we make in our own lives may not mark the fulfilment of anyone’s prophecy, but they probably mark the fulfilment of someone’s hope. Sometimes we are so hesitant about making a new start that we end up in no-man’s-land waiting for more weather reports wondering what to do instead of getting on with it. This weekend as we think about our baptism we stop and think about our journey of faith as we celebrate beginning of Jesus ministry, we look at our own beginnings.
And if some of them look a bit shabby now or half-hearted, we take consolation from the Gospel challenge to begin again. There probably won’t be any doves flying or voices from heaven, but as people of God we make our beginnings like Jesus with the help of the Holy Spirit. We are not alone. We make them in the power of the Spirit and in the love of the Father. So let us take courage to face our own rocky roads as the new year unfolds before all of us.