Dear People of Saint Anne,
The stories of our Scriptures are living stories that are meant to bring our lives to life in God and help us see and face up to what is happening in our lives in the present time. The scriptures are meant to become our stories.
So today, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we hear not just an historical account of Jesus’ baptism. It is proclaimed in Scripture that it might also touch us inwardly.
We go into the water with Jesus. We come up an out of the water with the Lord in a newness of life. The dove descends upon us. We are meant to hear the words: You are my beloved – in whom I am well pleased.
The story of Jesus is actually the story of our lives and therefore has the power to move us, arrest us and even haunt us in our gathering today. Let us look at that story.
First, there is the image of water. In the stories of creation and the great flood, the scriptures portray water as a symbol of both life and death. It has the power to destroy – and a power to bring new life.
As we are baptized with Jesus in these waters of the river Jordan, we are also made aware of the precious gift of life – giving waters.
We also hear of the dove descending upon Jesus. A dove in the scriptures is always a symbol of God’s love. When our lives are connected with God’s spirit of love, true peace is found. When we are in communion with the love of God, there is a spiritual solution to every problem we face. Problems persist when we fail to recognize and realize our deep connection with God.
We also hear those words … You are my beloved – with you I am well pleased. Year after year, the perfection we long for in this life does not appear. We are always aware of the compulsions that reign within us or the challenges that threaten our joy and courage.
Yet sometimes, a wave of light breaks through into our darkness, and we hear that same voice, spoken deep within ourselves that Jesus heard: You are loved … you are accepted by that which is greater than you … no matter your state, your concern or difficulty – simply know that you are loved and accepted.
When this happens –we know the grace to carry on – just as Jesus did – to live out of our God given mission in this life, with renewed faith and trust that God will give us the power and the courage to deal with anything life has to hand us.
And finally, we hear of the mission of Jesus. What is the God given mission that has been planted in our hearts on the day of our Baptism? When we know and trust that we are forever connected to God’s love – like Jesus – we come to recognize that we are empowered to be light and hope to those who live in darkness or despair.
In essence, we are called to open the eyes of those who are blind to their own goodness or worthiness … removing barriers that hold people down in the workplace or that keep others in any form of bondage of fear or panic. By focusing our lives – beyond our concerns – and focusing on the needs and difficulties of others, the light of God can shine and alight upon others through our commitment to justice, fairness and equity.
Friends, let us allow this Feast of the Baptism that we share in Christ – with its privileges and responsibilities – become the stronghold and the mission of our lives in powerful and wonderful ways as we begin this new year
Let us allow this story of Baptism and new life – to be become our story – allowing ourselves – as Jesus did – to be immersed more fully in the mystery of God’s saving love for us, along with its call and demand to living the Good News of the Gospel in all times, seasons and moments of our lives.
In the heart of the Savior,
Father Bernie Pietrzak