In reading today’s Gospel from Mark you might recognize that it is the same one from just two days ago, Saturday, January 6. Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the ending of the Christmas Season. From the timeline of the synoptic Gospels, Mark, Matthew, and Luke, this is a significant step in the life of Jesus for after his baptism, he will immediately go into the desert for forty days and then he will begin his public ministry.
In reflecting on our baptismal vows, (You may refer back to or read the comments I made on January 6 – Let Us Recommit to our Baptismal Vows in which I paraphrased some of the statements from the Rite of Baptism for Children.) we ought to see this feast as important to us as well. Again, Jesus was not participating in baptism as an act of repentance, he was joining in solidarity with us in our sinfulness. Jesus came to redeem us, to save us, to help to reconcile our fractured relationship with his Father.
This reality that the Son of God, non-being, Infinite Act of Existence, became a finite, human being and then even assumed our sinfulness, while remaining sinless in the act of John’s baptism of repentance, should blow our minds! The pure, unblemished, Lamb of God began the process that would end in his death on the cross. He was willing to participate in this baptism, in this crucifixion because he loved his Father and was willing to follow his Father’s will all the way. He was willing to show unconditional love for us, by giving his life for us, not because we are perfect, but sinners who had fallen away from the love of his Father.
We have a choice each and every day, each and every moment. We can turn our back on God our Father and listen to false promises, apparent goods, and give in to temptations that satisfy for the moment but leave us empty. We can live a life for our self alone working toward an eternity of eternal separation from the one who loves us more than we can ever know. Or, we can choose to participate in the plan that God has for us and to follow Jesus in the way he has revealed. We can actualize our potential and experience the joy and meaning of a life of fulfillment that is working toward a life of eternity with God while at the same time helping others to live the same.
How come Jesus never sinned? Because he never said no to his Father, he always said yes. Jesus’ baptism made a difference. Our Baptism, in which we were indelibly marked, eternally conformed to Jesus, made a difference. But our Baptism, our being born again, born from above, is just the beginning, just as it was for Jesus. God the Father has a part for us to play in bringing about his kingdom. It does not matter how small. We are called to be holy, we are called to be saints. Each and every one of us, each and every day, we are invited to say yes to God’s will and commit to building up his kingdom.
We are not alone in this endeavor. The saints in a stained glassed window, with the light shining through, are not just there for adornment. They are examples of those, who sinners and imperfect like us, made a decision one day that their Baptism mattered, that they were going to say yes to God, that day, and each day that followed. They allowed the light of Christ to shine through them to others. We can do the same, as the saints cheer us on. Jesus also continues to remain present with us, he has sent the Comforter, the Love of the Holy Spirt to give us the guidance, the ears to hear, and the courage to act. All that needs to happen for us to begin to live out our baptismal call is to say yes, today, tomorrow, and the next day to the will of our Loving God and Father.
Photo: Stained glass window of saints who said yes to God: St Augustine Parish, Culver City, CA
Link to today’s Mass reading for Monday, January 8, 2018: