Is 42:1-4. 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Mt 3:13-17
As we move from Christmas Season to Ordinary Time (between Christmas and Lent) we have this feast to help us with the transition. The Baptism of Jesus represents the beginning of his public ministry. He will baptize us with "fire and the Holy Spirit," but first, he himself is baptized.
All that we have reflected upon over the past several weeks is summed up in this baptism. Jesus fully and completely enters into our world, into our lives, into our experience. He doesn't hold back at all. There are no barriers to his solidarity with us. His coming and his saving us are one great act of love and communion. One with us, for us, and inviting us to be one with him in the same movement.
We're already human, we might respond. Oh, but the grace of this celebration invites us to reflect upon how much we resist being human. The more we reflect upon it, the more we realize that we want to be "above" or "apart from" our humanity. Even the part of me that is stubbornly indulgent doesn't want to "look in the mirror" and see how unattractive it looks.
Jesus not only enters into the dark and un-free parts of our "humanity," Jesus gives himself over to being completely human. It takes more looking in that mirror to realize how much we resist being fully human. I put the brakes on; I stop short. I find excuses. Jesus doesn't hesitate to enter into the fullness of human emotion, human communication, human vulnerability, human compassion, and human loving. By his baptism into our lives he not only becomes free; he becomes fully alive.
This feast prepares us for the weeks ahead. We will now begin to read Mark's gospel, from the beginning. We will be invited to be with Jesus on the road to baptism into him, where he is - one with us in our humanity. That means, in the "Ordinary Time" ahead, we will grow in our desire to be better "friends" with our humanity - the part that is independent and isolated, and the part that longs to be more fully integrated, balanced - more like Jesus.
Today, we can experience concrete events, limitations, crosses, relationships, ecstasies that can be occasions for us to say to ourselves - let me be baptized more deeply into this, my humanity, because it is here that my Lord came to be one with me and to save me.
By Andy Alexander