This past weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. I have always found the most powerful element of this event is that God, through Jesus Christ, walked into the river of human life and immersed himself in it. He demonstrated that he is with us in the murky river of human life, and so we have a God who is with us on the journey, traveling with us and sharing the life-giving water of human life.
God did not have to do that, but it was a statement of unity enveloped by the moving current of life. It was God’s way of assaying not only is this God of ours with us, but that God wants to be with us in all of life, our struggles and our triumphs. Also, remember that God through Jesus suffered and died a horrible, violent death. That means we do not have a God who does not understand our suffering. On the contrary; we are children of a God who knows suffering and, thus, is with us in it.
This feast invites us to reflect on our own life with God, our own immersion into the same river, and our struggles when the water is really dirty, and in the joys of floating and letting the river take us along.
The primary element of and, thus, the symbol of Baptism is water. However, our fonts are dry now because of concerns for spreading the coronavirus. We are reminded of this at our church buildings, but we at Holy Family have an added dimension. We not only have fonts, but a huge, deep font that is always beneath the beautiful wooden covering in the center of the church – in the center aisle – right in the middle of us. When you reflect on our deep baptismal font, when you see the wooden cover, when you walk across it, be reminded and trust that beneath it lays a tremendous source of life. It is there. It is ALWAYS there.
At this time of chaos, struggle, violence and transition in our country the baptism experience can speak to us and help us to make some sense of this chaos. Our politics are currently murky, even dirty. Our spirit of democracy is dry. But those are only on the surface and at this particular moment in a journey. The long river of our life’s voyage is one of faith, unity, freedom and love.
At this moment in our country’s history, the baptism experience invites and challenges us to go deeper into the river, deeper into our souls to retrieve the connection with God through Christ. We must go beneath the dryness of a threatened spirit and trust that God is in the river with us. The violence of the past year that has threatened the spiritual community of our democracy is real, but we must go deeper to connect with the unifying principles of life itself and our common sacred sharing of that life.
Let’s remind ourselves that beneath the surface is the current of a God who loves us and guides us. We just need to go deeper to connect with it these days.
Baptism and Call
In my writing about the importance of seeing our work as God’s work, I emphasize the importance of our call or calling. I am very committed to the movement of the Second Vatican Council that invites, and even challenges, us ALL to see that we are called by God by virtue of our Baptism.
God begins to call us in baptism to acknowledge Him as the source of our call, to identify the talents that He has given to us and to share those talents to make the world, and thus the Church, a better place.
Two of the scripture readings this weekend give details and invite us to see how God’s call and our response play out in our lives. In the first reading the young Samuel doesn’t realize God is calling him. The wise Eli reminds him. We can do the same for each other when we recognize that someone else doesn’t realize God is calling them. John’s Gospel tells us that two disciples follow Jesus at the encouragement of John the Baptist. They are curious about Jesus and they want to know more. Jesus invites them to see. They respond.
One of them, Andrew, is so moved by this experience; he finds his brother Peter and brings him to Christ. We can encourage others, we can recognize their curiosity, we can respond and we can bring others to Christ.