Peace and Grace to you!
Last Sunday was the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the readings told the story of when Jesus was baptized by John at the Jordan. We remember the biblical image parallels from the Exodus event and Jesus’ baptism: the column of cloud, the fire and the voice that led the people out of cruel slavery through the abode of the dead to the shores of a new life and relationship with God. At Jesus’ baptism, the column of his pure body embraces our corrupt human nature as he descends beneath the waters of our death brought about by sin, when he rises from the water, he raises his mystical body the Church to life! His body the column, his teaching the fire and light of our hearts and minds, his Spirit making our footsteps firm and guiding us in the path of faith to eternal life! Now, we return to a related scene as John publicly testifies that Jesus is the Son of God and he baptizes with the Holy Spirit!
The gifts of the Spirit that we are given through Baptism and Confirmation equip us for doing good works and building up the Body of Christ. The reading from Isaiah reminds us that we evangelize and demonstrate our discipleship through servant leadership.
Since the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the Church has stated that everyone, by their baptism, shares in the mission of Christ—to proclaim the good news to all people! Every Catholic is an evangelist and disciple of Jesus. There are new Catholics who wish to know more, there are those who want to be able to respond to questions from non-Catholics and there are adult Catholics who wish to have a deeper understanding of the faith. All have been invited to “come and see.” The study and understanding of the faith is not the special prerogative of priests and theologians. It is the grace of revelation and conversion given by God. Jesus did not give the mission solely to the religious and ordained so that they could fulfill the obligation for everyone else; all must work at it. All of us should be engaged in some kind of ministry and activity because life in the Spirit requires it. The greatest gift of ministry is not what we give to others but what happens in the exchange when they give to us. We experience concretely the divine blessing of the Church and the communion we have in the life of Jesus. All of us experience transformation, conversion, liberation and a deep sense of peace knowing that God is present and active. Of course this changes the way we act and the way we are perceived by others. We become one on whom the Spirit has come upon and remained. God bless you always! +++ Fr. Peter