“Baptism in the river Jordan“
by Fr Ray McIntyre SDB
The Gospels are neither clear nor in agreement where John the Baptist was preaching and Jesus was baptised but all agree that the event took place. Pilgrims to the Holy Land visit a site on the river Jordan in order to renew and say yes to the new life in Jesus into which we were born again when our godparents spoke on our behalf at our Baptism. This Sunday the Church recalls the day when Jesus approached John the Baptist and asked to be baptised. Our Lord got into the Jordan river with other people, not because he needed Baptism but because this moment signalled the official opening of his public mission. The main speech was made from heaven, God the Father putting the seal of approval upon the work which Jesus was undertaking with the words :
You are my Son the beloved; My favour rests on You.
Jesus entered the Jordan in solidarity with sinful humanity.He was saying – I’m in here, with you and for you – The Word has truly become flesh. The Baptism of Jesus was a turning point in his life. It makes us think of our own Baptism, not just as an event of the past but as an ever present reality, a constant sharing in the Divine Life of the Risen Christ. The seed planted in our hearts on the day of our Baptism was meant to bloom into a Christian way of living. Living our Baptism now comes as a series of little choices rather than a dramatic moment. Each day we make choices and all sorts of pressures are being exerted on us which we should be aware of: we should see where they are taking us. We must not be like a piece of driftwood carried along by a fast flowing river. Baptism has pointed us in a certain direction, a daily invitation to come closer to God and be helpers in His work of saving the world, of making the world a better place.
We may not have the ability to do great things but we can do good things. The Gospels tell us that Jesus went about doing good. What a beautiful way for us to make a public statement about our Faith and in our own way to complete the mission which Jesus began after his Baptism. Today is a day, perhaps, to ask ourselves if we are being true to the direction in which our lives were pointed at our Baptism.
Gospel Reading – Mark 1:7-11
In the course of his preaching John the Baptist said:
‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’
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