[Baptism of the Lord, Year B, January 11, 2015 / Isa 42:1-4, 6-7, Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3b+9b-10, Acts 10:34-38, Mark 1:7-11]
TODAY the Universal Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord, when John baptized Jesus in the river Jordan. Baptism is a sacrament, a mystery. What does it mean that Jesus was baptized? In being baptized Jesus enters fully into the human condition. Entering the water he shows us his desire to enter into our human situation, to dive in.
In Greek, the word “baptize” means to dip or immerse oneself in water. In antiquity it was common in baptism for the candidate to be fully immersed in the water. Jesus was the first one to enter fully and totally into the murky depths of the Jordan, but in a symbolic and real way to dive into the murky depths of our humanity. He goes ahead of us, sanctifying what he finds and opening a way. Jesus is fully human and fully divine. Often we have an expression “I am only human.” If only we were really fully human! The one who is fully human is the one who lets himself be loved fully by God and who is divinized and sanctified by the Spirit.
Without God’s grace and love we cannot enter fully into the human experience. What we see, the complexities, contradictions and ambiguities frighten us off. The human condition, marked by sin, is not possible for us to embrace without divine assistance. Only the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world can redeem us. St Maximus of Turin commented thus, “Christ is baptized, not that he may be sanctified in the waters, but that he himself may sanctify the waters.” He sanctifies the human condition, loving it, embracing it and redeeming it. John Paul II in his encyclical about the Christ the Redeemer of man wrote that man remains a mystery unto himself unless he encounters love, embraces it and makes it his own (cf.Redemptor Hominis No. 10).
What is the consequence of not fully encountering and embracing love? We sit on the fence. We don’t commit, we don’t dive in. How often we are afraid to commit! Afraid to make a decision, uncertain and insecure. Of course we need to discern well, to “test everything and retain what is good.” But sometimes it is very obvious what is needed! We know God’s will clearly. Committing ourselves means we have to confront our inconsistencies. Don’t be afraid to dive in!!! Sometimes watching rock concerts you see the diehard fans climbing on stage and before the security can capture them they launch themselves into the crowd in what is known as “stage diving.” They do this because they know they will be caught by many safe hands of people in the crowd.
And us? We know that when we dive into God’s will, the safe hands of three very dependable persons will catch us—the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit will catch us!
In the baptism scene God the Father speaks and reminds all to trust in Jesus “This is my Son, my beloved. Listen to him.” The Father assures us that we are safe in the hands of his Son. Trust is very important. What is Jesus telling you? So if God is for you, who can be against you? Time is passing fast. Get on with it. Otherwise we grow old and we are only theoretical persons, people who bore others with all our “plans” but no action because we have no faith. What are you afraid of? The worst that can happen is that we make a mistake! Don’t be afraid! Dive in…