Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
January 11, 2015 – Year B
Readings: Is 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm – Isaiah 12; Acts 10:34-38; Mk 1:7-11
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
From September 1940 until May 1941, Hitler’s Luftwaffe carried out an intense bombing campaign of London. His intent was to demoralize the British people and and encourage them to surrender quickly. The damage inflicted on the city was great and causalities were high. The destruction in the East End of London was especially bad. In spite of this and against the advice of many of his advisors, King George VI and his wife Elizabeth decided to stay in London instead of evacuating to the countryside. They remained at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle. After nearly being killed one day when bombs exploded in a Palace courtyard, Elizabeth commented, “I am glad we have been bombed. It makes me feel we can look the East End in the face”.
I remembered hearing this story as I read today’s Gospel. You see, for a long time, the story of Jesus’ Baptism seemed rather strange to me. John the Baptist, a cousin of Our Lord, was causing quite a stir. He was preaching in the desert and calling people to repent for their sins and be baptized as a sign of their repentance. So it seems odd that Jesus, who had never sinned, would insist on being baptized. If you read the account of this story in the other Gospels, you will learn that John also thought this was odd. However, I think that one reason that Jesus insisting on being baptized like everyone else is the same reason that King George wouldn’t leave London. He wanted to be with his people.
Jesus was a people person. The Gospels are full of stories of how he traveled around from place to place. He went from Nazareth to Galilee to Capernaum. He traveled through Samaria and he went to Jerusalem. Every where he traveled, he talked with many people. He met them in the synagogues and in the Temple. He ate with many people in their homes. Wherever someone needed him, Jesus met them there.
Jesus’ whole life has been about meeting people where they are. Just over nine months ago on the Solemnity of the Annunciation, we celebrated God’s first step on his journey to join us; when he first became one of us in the womb of Mary. A few weeks ago, on Christmas, we celebrated his next step; his birth into our world. Today we take a look at the beginning of his last three years on earth with us, but he did not abandon us when he died. He still reaches out to us today.
He is here with us now, in this church, because he promised that whenever two or more are gathered in his name, he would be there. He is there whenever one of us helps out at the Shepherd’s Table, works on a blanket for the Fiber Ministry or serves in prison ministry, because Jesus said that when we help the least of his people, we are helping him.
These are not the only ways that Jesus joins us. He joins us when we open our hearts in prayer. Scripture assures us that the prayers that we make in his name will always be heard. He even taught us how to do it when he gave us the “Our Father” and he waits to join us when we reflect on the key moments of his life through the Rosary.
The Sacraments are also where we encounter Jesus. He is there in persona Christi when a priest gives absolution in the confessional or anoints the sick. He heals us and gives us strength to face the trials of illness.
He is there as our brother when we become a child of God through baptism and sealed with the Holy Spirit in Confirmation.
He walks beside us as we serve our spouse and children in Marriage.
Through the Eucharist, He enters our bodies to feed us and give us the grace to live ours lives as his disciples.
When Jesus came up from the water at his baptism, the people there got a brief glimpse of the Holy Trinity. The Son stood there in the water, the voice of the Father was heard from Heaven and the Spirit came down from above in the form of a dove. Through our own baptism, we are joined to Christ’s Mystical body and from that moment on, we never walk alone.