Monday September 16, 2019
8:57 am

Christ’s baptism speaks to our own need to heed the call to mission

      The new year is upon us and still fresh in terms of good intentions and new beginnings. Is there anyone among us who doesn’t vow to turn over a new leaf at this time of year?

      Stop smoking. Lose weight. Exercise. Be nicer to our (in-laws, neighbor, co-worker, etc…you fill in the blanks). Resolutions abound, but how many of us give serious thought to making spiritual resolutions as we face the coming months to be filled with new opportunities, new challenges?

      But where to start?

      This weekend, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Mark’s Gospel (Mk 1:7-11) is relatively short but read it well and I think you will find a roadmap for your spiritual resolutions.

      The scene is this: John the Baptizer was at work in the river Jordan. Many of his followers came to believe that John, perhaps, was the long-awaited Messiah. Nay, John tells them. “One mightier that I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.”

      And then it happened. Jesus came one day to be baptized by John.

      Now when we think of baptism as we know it today, we envision gathering with relatives and friends with a baby pure, clean and dressed impeccably in white.

      Not so, during John’s tenure as the baptizer. People came from all over the region and they didn’t travel in hermetically sealed cars with no chance of dirt, sweat and odors prevailing. No, travel in ancient times was slow, arduous and, well, not very clean.

      So, one must think that emersion into the Jordan, no matter how murky the waters might have been, would have been reviving, not only for the spirit, but body and mind as well. It truly was a new beginning.

      Jesus walks into the river and sinks down into its depths. Rising up and breaking the surface, “he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came down from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’”

      I presume you are asking yourself, what does this have to do with New Year’s resolutions?

      Bear with me and read forward. What does Jesus do next? Filled with the Spirit, encouraged, refreshed and renewed, Jesus enters the desert to pray and then begins his public ministry. Any barriers – physical, mental or emotional - that might have been holding him back were gone. Christ’s baptism was his call to mission, just as our baptism, likewise, calls us to mission.

      What might that mission be? I can’t answer that for you; I can only reflect on what that means for me. I do know we all are created for a purpose, for mission. No one is too young; too old; too poor; too important. We all have a mission. It part and parcel with our baptism into Christ Jesus.

      As we begin this new year with all the promises it holds, what a wonderful opportunity to explore just where we fit – what is our role – as a believer, a disciple of Jesus in this world today.

      After all, how wonderful will it be one day to hear those same words from our God: “You are my beloved child; with you I am well pleased.”

      Note: As our diocese celebrates its new beginnings with the installation of Bishop Donald J. Hying as the fourth bishop of Gary, please pray for the Holy Spirit to bring wisdom and great love to his ministry in Northwest Indiana.

    

      Debbie Bosak is the editor and general manager of Northwest Indiana Catholic Publications and a member of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish in Merrillville. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

    

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