for Sunday, January 13, 2013
The people were filled with expectation! The whole of the Christmas season
is filled with expectation when we review the readings and understand the
mysteries. Are we filled with expectation? That is the challenge!
The Prophet Isaiah begins the readings today with this wonderful
proclamation: Comfort my people! It is God who is speaking through the
Prophet. How often our hearts cry out for comfort. When there is tragedy
we cry out for comfort. When there is suffering we cry out for comfort.
The people of the time of Isaiah were recognizing the results of their sins
and could understand a bit the tragedy and suffering of sin - so they cry out
We modern people are like our ancestors in that we rarely recognize the
tragedy and suffering of sin and so we rarely reach out to the God who has
promised us so much. More and more of us today no longer believe in a
personal God or perhaps not even in any God at all. Even those of us who
believe often live as if there is no God.
The Letter of Titus tells us that Jesus Christ gave himself for us to
deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his
own, eager to do what is good. We want to believe that and yet our hearts
cry out when we don't want to be cleansed or to do what is good. There is
confusion among the people today as there was among the people in the time
of our ancestors and in the time of Jesus. There are people who claim to
speak for God but who clearly do not speak the same words that we find in
the Scriptures. Today many Christians are so caught up in interpreting the
Scriptures in a way that simply does not reflect what the Scriptures said,
according to the understanding of tradition. People claim to have new
insights and these new insights justify behaviors quite contrary to the
traditional understanding of the Scripture.
Luke's Gospel today brings us to the scene of the baptism of Jesus. Jesus
who is God is baptized like any other follower of Christ. Yet others
recognized that something unusual happened at the baptism of Jesus and that
there was some unusual but identifiable presence of the divine at the
baptism. Like any manifestation of the divine, some were able to recognize
it and others could not.
What we can hear today is that you and I receive our faith from others. We
cannot make it up by ourselves. That is why it is important to stay within
Scripture and Tradition in our understanding of Scripture says. When new
traditions are introduced because of some modern understanding of
Scripture, we must be very cautious. Even the early Church recognized that
there are ways to understand the divine reality that are new and
revolutionary. That is why we hear about a Council of the leaders in the
Acts of the Apostles.
The Baptism of Jesus is telling us that what Jesus touches becomes holy by
His touch. What Jesus proclaims is holy because Jesus is Lord. When
changes are desired or seen as necessary, we can never proclaim them on our
own. We can talk about them and even discuss them, but the authority to
understand the Word of God and the tradition handed down to us is a gift to
the Church as a whole and to the leaders within the Church.
Jesus' humanity is manifested at His Baptism. The divinity of Jesus shines
through in His Baptism. In His Baptism, Jesus embraces the suffering of
his humanity so that divinity can shine through. Today it is in the Church
that we find the divinity of Jesus hidden in His humanity. We are tempted
to run away from the humanity of Jesus.
As Jesus accepting completing the suffering of the human condition in His
Baptism, so also must we today accept the suffering of His Church as we
open our hearts to His divinity within the Church. Lord, help us see!
Readings of the day:
First Reading: Isaiah 42.1-4, 6-7
Second Reading: Acts 10.34-38
Gospel: Luke 3.15-16, 21-22
Reflections are available for the following Sundays: