Written on: January 11, 2019
The following reflection on the Baptism of the Lord was written by Sister Mary Elizabeth Looby, GNSH.
Several years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a dramatization of today’s Gospel by a group called “Fountain Square Fools” from Cincinnati, OH. They were a “portable theatre” troupe that sought to bring the gospels alive in new and fresh ways using drama, dance, mime and music.
Imagine the scene, John the Baptist was standing in the river baptizing without partiality each one who came to him. People were patiently waiting their turn to give witness to their belief. Some were wondering if John might be the Christ, the Messiah, the one promised in the scripture. John deflected these assumptions and told them that he was not worthy to even loosen the sandal of the Promised One. He was a messenger preparing the way for the Christ to come.
Jesus enters the scene. He simply gets in line to await his turn. When he reaches John, John recognizes him and baptizes him with the water and the word, intuitively knowing there was so much more to come.
Then a dove appears and hovers over Jesus and a loud voice shatters the moment and declares:
“You are my Beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
John and Jesus were both shaken by the experience and moved off to sit on the hillside, wondering “What just happened here?!”
The power of baptism, the sacrament that makes us one of God’s very own, may not result in such drama as this. But we do well to question, “What just happened here?”
Whether you were carried in loving arms or presented yourself for baptism, you became by virtue of the sacrament one of the chosen, God’s very own beloved daughter or son, an heir to the kingdom of God. Baptism places a mark on our soul that cannot ever be removed completely. Sin can obscure but it cannot diminish this mark of belonging.
Just as Jesus of Nazareth “received the Holy Spirit and power to go about doing good and healing all who were oppressed for God was with him,” we do well to remember that we belong to the same family and have the same responsibility and power to be a healing presence in our world.
God has chosen us to bring good news to the poor! It is our birthright and our heritage. May we hear inside of ourselves the words,
“You are my Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
Photo credit: Cristian Palmer/Unsplash