At the baptism of Jesus Christ in the Jordan river, the heavens open and God speaks to humanity:
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
From this gospel of Mark, the people of the community to whom he preached came to know Jesus in a new and profound way. This was, in a sense, proof that he was the one who would save the people of Israel. What they may not have understood immediately was that this man, Jesus Christ, came to save ALL people, both Jews and Gentiles. Jesus is for all people. Jesus loves all people. Jesus gave his life for all people.
Many years ago, when I was teaching religion to a class of teenagers, I posed a question to them in hope of some insight and discussion: Do you think that if you were the only person on earth God would have sent his Son to save you? And discuss they did, everything from, “not just for one”, “what would I need to be saved from if I were the only person, what sin would I even have?” “oh, you can sin, even if you are alone”, “it would never happen, so why think about it”, “yes it could happen, because God can do everything”, “God loves everyone equally so why wouldn’t he save me, even just one”, “Jesus came so that all of us, every last one, could go to heaven”, “and there is a story in the Bible of how Jesus left all the sheep to go after just one who was lost, so he would come for me, especially if I was alone.”
I was pleased with their being so engaged. It made clear to me that they did understand who Jesus was and why God sent him to be with us. Another question was posed, one that we all might do well to consider: “What difference does it make in your life that you were baptized?” Take time this week to think about that. How would your life be different if you did not know and understand who Jesus was? Who are you without Jesus Christ in your life? How might your life be different if you were never part of a faith community or if you did not understand that you were called to love and serve others? For that is what our baptism in Jesus call us to.
We, like the disciples, are commissioned by our baptism to love and serve God and God’s people.
In some ways we might say that our baptism is proof that we are Christians, and we can profess that to others, but it is our actions that will provide a real understanding of what that means. Let us all take time to reflect on how we are or are not living our baptismal call.
And one more Merry Christmas! as we end the liturgical season of Christmas with the Baptism of the Lord.
Have a blessed week,