Baptism of the Lord
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh 9th January 2022
2021 is now history except in our personal memory. It will be remembered differently depending on our experience of joy or sorrow, sickness or health, birth or bereavement. A memory shared by all has been that of the continuing impact of Covid on life at all levels. And Covid has taken a greater hold in our memory, both personal and corporate, because it is now in its third year 2020, 2021 and now in 2022. It has now become an event in the world’s memory and like a conflict or war we will not know its full impact for a long time to come.
This and future generations will speak of pre-Covid and post-Covid. But for now, we continue to be immersed in the experience – all the time yearning for a return to normality. The longer this experience endures we cannot rest easy. We are continually being prodded to stay alert and be cautious and careful. Thankfully so many people are. These thoughts come to mind as we begin again a new cycle of living and a new cycle of celebrating the mysteries of faith with marking the Baptism of the Lord.
You might reasonably ask what is the connection? Might I suggest we can draw inspiration and encouragement by attending to the nature of Jesus’ experience of baptism and its place/meaning on His life/mission.
Jesus we know had no need to undergo baptism – but choose to do so with others who desired its effect/fruit of cleansing from sin – that sharing in the need for healing is a powerful witness – He did not place Himself above us but in solidarity with our need.
The other element of the event that stands out is the voice of the Father and the descent of the dove – together conveying approval and blessing on Him.
We would love to ask what was Jesus thinking and what effect did it have on Him? It is agreed by scholars that this moment marks the “launch” of His public ministry to others and He was confident and clear in His mission. He was assured of the Father’s blessing – “the consciousness of Jesus”. In spiritual terms He was prepared and ready to fulfil the will of the Father with a clear interior freedom. His mind and heart were united in His love. It is this unencumbered love that continually flowed from Him as He walked/talked with people.
This is the grace of God in life into which we participate through our own baptism and which we desire for the children we bring for baptism.
Being in the midst of Covid tests our emotional and spiritual resources. It can feel like being invited to walk on water. It can frighten the life out of us. There is no doubt about its disturbance of our inner life. But rather than yield to unnecessary fear it calls us to reach deeper to connect through thought and prayer with the grace gifted to each of us according to our need.