Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the official end of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. (Tomorrow we celebrate Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time). I have always enjoyed the Christmas Season because it provides a little down time after all the preparations for Christmas: a time when I am able to send out my Christmas cards (which I rarely get out before Christmas), take some time to leisurely re-read the cards I received, write some thank-you notes, watch a movie or two, start reading a new book, get together with family and friends, and just take some extra time to reflect upon the goodness of God who came to live among us that we might know his enduring presence and his great love for us. Well, I really got cheated out of the Christmas Season this year with the terrible strain of the flu I got hit with. I didn’t get to celebrate one of my most favorite Solemnities, the Epiphany of the Lord, nor did I get out any Christmas cards this year, and I did not accomplish most of what I noted above. However, I did have the opportunity to have a couple of great visits with my mom and spend some quality time with family and friends before I got sick. I also had some time to read, watch a movie or two on TV, and pray and reflect upon the Scriptures of this Christmas Season. At the same time, I have been getting a little impatient, watching for some signs that I am getting better, but it sure is slow going. My doctor told me she had to hospitalize a lot of people with this strain of the flu as people had developed complications from it; she said it has been especially hard on people with allergies and respiratory problems. I do appreciate your prayers and concern during my illness. At this writing I am not yet sure if I will be joining you for worship this weekend. I do hope and pray that you manage to avoid the flu and that you experience good health these winter months.
I would like to share the following reflection on today’s feast by Bishop Robert F. Morneau. He begins by quoting the following from today’s Gospel: And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11) He then goes on to say:
Baptism is about relationships. We are baptized into a community of faith; we are baptized into the life of God; we are baptized into a life of discipleship to Jesus. And yes, we are baptized through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Relationships demand communication. In the spiritual life that form of communication is called prayer, be it a prayer of praise, gratitude, petition, or forgiveness. Prayer is that lifting up of our minds, hearts, and lives to a loving God who calls each of us beloved. Today as we hear about Jesus being baptized, we are also informed that following that experience he was in prayer. Jesus heard the Father’s voice that he was the beloved Son.
Jesus prayed at the Jordan River. Here he experienced the identity of being God’s beloved Son. How important that was for him because sometime later, while hanging on the cross, he would be challenged to come down “if” he was truly the Son of God. The grace of baptism sustained him in this moment of anguish.
Jesus prayed in deserted places. He sought solitude to communicate with his Father. It was out of this prayer that he would teach, preach, and heal. It would be out of this prayer that he would discern the choice of apostles.
Jesus prayed in a garden, the one called Gethsemane. In the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, we call this “the agony in the garden.” Just as Jesus experienced the death/resurrection mystery of his baptism at the Jordan, so now again he came to experience that dying/rising event that would lead to our salvation.
Baptism takes place in a moment of time but it is also a permanent invitation to foster our spiritual relationships. As we celebrate Jesus’ baptism, let us renew our own.
Bishop Morneau invites us to reflect upon the following: 1) In what sense is baptism a permanent invitation? 2) What role does prayer play in your spiritual life?
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ