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Reflections

for Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Christmas season ends today with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The beginning and end of the season have much in common. On Christmas, we celebrate God becoming one of us, taking upon himself a human nature. On the Feast of the Baptism, we celebrate the public proclamation that Jesus is more than just one of us. He has more than a human nature. He has a Divine Nature. He is the Son of God, in whom the father in well pleased.

We begin with John the Baptist. The Gospel of Luke tells the story of John's birth. You remember, Zachary and Elizabeth were unable to have children. Elizabeth was past childbearing age when Zachary had a vision in the Temple of the angel Gabriel telling him that he and Elizabeth would have a son that he would name John. This son would be a prophet like Elijah, one of the most powerful prophets of the Old Testament. You remember how Gabriel also told Mary about Elizabeth's pregnancy. Elizabeth was a kinswoman of Mary's; so Mary went to see Elizabeth. When she arrived, the baby inside of Elizabeth stirred. Elizabeth recognized that Mary's baby was the Lord.

Today's Gospel, from the Gospel of Mark, advances the story 30 years. We come upon John, teaching and baptizing at the Jordan River. He is demanding an end to evil in the world and calling the people to accept his baptism as a sign that they will join him in the fight for the Kingdom of God. He also speaks about the one to come. The last book of the Old Testament is the Book of Malachi. It ends with a prophecy that Elijah would come again to prepare the world for the Messiah. John is this new Elijah, as Gabriel had told Zachary.

Jesus chooses to be baptized by John to show that he is one with all those who are fighting against evil and fighting for the Kingdom of God. John says that he himself does not deserve to unfasten Jesus' sandals, but Jesus demands he be baptized. The people of the world who long for the Kingdom must see that their King is one of them. The voice of God the Father proclaims that Jesus is the Son of God. This is my Son, my Beloved, in whom I am well pleased.

What does this mean to us? It means that our union with Jesus is a union with God. It means that Jesus is not just another man, not even another extraordinary man. He is God. He has a human nature given to him through Mary, and a divine nature eternally at one with the God. The One who is our brother is also the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. We don't just give him the title God. He is God.

When we call upon Jesus to help us, we are praying to God. When we receive communion, we receive God within us. When we seek forgiveness, we are forgiven not by the priest but by God. When you married in the Church, Jesus united His Love to your love for each other in the sacrament of marriage.

A few years ago Nicole Mullen wrote about the power of the Lord we receive in prayer:

I'm so very ordinary
Nothing special on my own
Oh, and I have never walked on water
And I have never calmed a storm

Sometimes I'm hiding away
From the madness around me
Like a child who's afraid of the dark

When I call on Jesus, all things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When I call on Jesus, mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move Heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call

Weary brother, broken daughter
Widowed, widowed lover, you're not alone

If you're tired and scared
Of the madness around you
If you can't find the strength to carry on

When you call on Jesus, all things are possible
You can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When you call on Jesus, mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move Heaven and earth to come rescue you when you

Call Him in the mornin', in the afternoon time
Late in the evenin', He'll be there
When your heart is broken and you feel discouraged
You can just remember that He said, He'll be there

When I call on Jesus, all things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When I call on Jesus, mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move Heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call

When I call on Jesus, all things are possible
I can mount on wings like eagles and soar
When I call on Jesus, mountains are gonna fall
'Cause He'll move Heaven and earth to come rescue me when I call

Do you remember the disciples on Lake Gennesaret, being tossed about in the storm? Like the disciples, in the middle of these storms, we can call on Jesus to bring calm, serenity, and peace of mind.

$ When we think our situation is hopeless -- we need to call on Jesus.
$ When we cannot see our way through -- we need to call on Jesus.
$ When we feel totally overwhelmed -- we need to call on Jesus.
$ When we feel that we are the worst person on the earth -- we need to call on Jesus.
$ When we feel that no one loves us and nobody care for us -- we need to call on Jesus.

Jesus is not just another human being. He is God. Yet he is one of us. He knows all the emotions that we feel. He has felt them in his human nature. Through His divine nature, he can and does heal us.

We go down into the water with John the Baptist, determined to fight for the Kingdom of God, and we leave the water with Jesus Christ, our Divine Champion.

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is an Epiphany. God is manifested to us in Jesus Christ. We need to pray to Him. We need to trust in Him.

 
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 42.1-4, 6-7
Second Reading: Acts 10.34-38
Gospel: Mark 1.7-11

This material is used with permission of its author, Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pellegrino, Diocese of St. Petersburg, FL. Visit his website

   

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