"In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptised by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Mark 1: 9-11 (NRSV)

The Baptism of Jesus confirms the words spoken to Mary at the Annunciation: her son would be known as the Son of the Most High. As he had been beloved by her and by Joseph, so now God declares his love for Jesus. Their love, though, is deeply sacrificial - God knows the destiny of his Son and Mary has been forewarned about the sword that will one day pierce her own heart.

For most mothers and fathers, parenthood has elements of sacrifice but for some it means laying down their lives for their children. Perhaps a child is born with serious disability, requiring 24 hour care - or perhaps is severely injured in an accident. Others might develop mental illness. Still others might go off-the-rails and parents suffer unable to do anything to help...

Pray for parents who share the sacrificial love of Mary and the Father.

     Mary, Lady of sacrificial love,
     you were promised a sword to pierce your heart
     but took the risk of love for your Son - your beloved.
     Pray for those who share the pain of parenthood -
     called to place the hopes and dreams for their children
     on the altar of the worst that life sometimes offers.
     Be their example and their patron.

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