1 Jn 2:29-3:6
Ps 98 1, 3cd-4, 5-6
The gospel reading today continues where yesterday’s left off, with John the Baptist in the Desert, announcing Jesus in his role as “a voice crying out in the wilderness.” It recounts Jesus’ baptism
The description of Jesus’ baptism in John’s Gospel is different from the other three gospels. There are many points that are the same but what John did not include was a description of the baptism ritual itself. At some point during this particular passage one realizes that John baptized Jesus but the baptism is not explicit.
More important than the details of the baptism is the significance of that baptism. Looked at in this way this gospel almost overwhelms with material for meditation. The last sentence alone, “Now I have seen and testified that he is the Son of God” has resulted in thousands of pages trying to understand what “the Son of God” means.
One thing is so obvious that most of us never think of it. Jesus bore no outward distinguishing mark. There was nothing about Jesus that set him apart from any other man of his time. Certainly there was no halo or aura of light emanating from him, as depicted by artists through the centuries. Jesus was not recognized as “the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit” by how he dressed or carried himself. He was fully God and fully man to be sure. But people walked past Jesus daily without recognizing him and without knowing him, just as we can go through our daily lives without knowing Jesus or recognizing how he acts in our lives.
In his time Jesus was fully known only through God’s revelation. In our time today Jesus is known through God’s revelation and faith in that revelation. And just as John the Baptist was ready to see that revelation when he “saw the Spirit come down like a dove from the sky and remain upon him”, we must be ready for the revelation. Indeed, as we go through life we will receive repeated revelations of Jesus self and action in our lives. But only if we are ready to receive them through faith.
We are coming to the end of the Christmas season, the season that commemorates Jesus coming to this world as flesh and blood. Sunday is epiphany followed a week later by the Baptism of the Lord, which will be described in Matthew’s Gospel—pay attention to the differences compared with the Gospel this morning. And then the Christmas season is over.
Lent will be here soon but for now we still sing Gloria in Excelcis Deo. Christ is born. It makes sense that the psalms today instructs us to:
Sing praise to the Lord with the harp,
with the harp and melodious song.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
sing joyfully before the King, the LORD.
It was a privilege to have two of my photos used for the community Christmas cards. Over the past two days I spent at least 8 hours in the chapel here taking photos for next year's cards. The photos below reflect some of that work. Most of them were long exposures ranging from 20 seconds to more than a minute (none of the very longest ones appear below). While the black and white one will not be a Christmas card I am more than pleased with it. A lot of smoke appeared after the 18 candles were extinguished yesterday morning at about 10:30 or so. There was no time to grab the tripod because the smoke was dissipating. So, I jacked the ISO to 500 and shot followed by a lot of post-processing. No commentary on each one.
Have a Blessed New Year.
+Fr. Jack, SJ, MD