Monday, January 08, 2007

Baptism of the Lord
New Beginnings


Readings: Titus 2:22-14; 3:4-7; Psalm 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30; Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Today the Christmas season comes to an end with our celebration of the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast provides an occasion for us to look back upon the past two weeks of Christmas and to see how it has truly been a celebration of new beginnings.

Of course, to some of us, it may seem a little jarring. Just yesterday we were celebrating the Epiphany and Jesus was still a newborn babe lying in the manger, being adored by the Magi. But today, quite suddenly, this baby has become a grown man and is being baptized by John in the Jordan.

Yet it is really still the same mystery that we are contemplating. We are still celebrating the beginning of a new liturgical year as well as the beginning of our salvation with the coming of God’s light to dispel the darkness of our hearts and our world. And just as yesterday we marveled at the how this new light shines out to all the nations through the babe in the manger, so today we continue to contemplate how this light shines out anew in the public ministry of Christ beginning at his baptism in the Jordan.

Yes, Christmas is indeed a celebration of new beginnings. And even as we bring the season to a close, we are invited to reflect also on our own beginnings as Christians, on our own baptism and the meaning it has for us.

For just as Jesus’ baptism marks the beginning of his public ministry, so too is our baptism meant to mark the beginning of our role as bearers of Christ’s light to others. Like Jesus, we too are called to continually let our lives revolve solely around doing the will of the Father and proclaiming the coming of God’s Kingdom.

And just as the power of Jesus’ ministry flows from an awareness of his own identity as beloved Son upon whom the Father’s favor rests, so too is the authenticity of our Christian living conditioned upon our own awareness of who we are. Ordinary though many of us may seem to be, in water and the Holy Spirit, we have all been baptized into an extraordinary calling. In Christ we are all adopted daughters and sons of the Father. In Christ, we have become those upon whom the Father’s favor rests.

Yet, in order to continue making new beginnings, we need also to hear the Father’s ongoing affirmation of us in the Holy Spirit. We need to spend time everyday in prayer as Jesus does after his own baptism. We need to give our hearts the time and space to listen to the words that have the power to mould and transform each one of us, the words that are spoken in ways that the Father alone knows how to speak: you are my daughter/ you are my son. You are my beloved. My favor rests on you.

My sisters and brothers, even as we bring our Christmas celebrations to a close today, how are we being invited to continue making new beginnings ?

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