Year B: The Baptism of the Lord
The Gospel: Mark 1: 7-11
John was the last and greatest of the prophets - the one who prepared the way for the coming of Jesus.
His greatness did not go unnoticed and many wondered whether he was, in fact, the Messiah. He was adamant that this was not so. Such is the greatness of the one who is to come that John says he feels himself to be unworthy even of kneeling before Him to undo the strap of His sandals.
It would be interesting to speculate what Johnís feelings were when the moment of Jesusí arrival came. He had come to the Jordan and asked John to baptise Him. The one whose sandals John felt unfit to untie allowed him to lead Him into the water and immerse Him.
If John had had any doubts about whether Jesus was the One, they were dispelled by the words which came from heaven: You are My Son, the Beloved; My favour rests on You.Ē
For a moment, heaven is open. The voice of God is heard - and the Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes to rest on Jesus. Already, the distinction between earth and heaven is beginning to break down. The Spirit which came upon Jesus at His baptism was in the world and to be given to all who were to be baptised in His name for the rest of time.
In asking John to baptise Him, Jesus is also making a clear statement about the meaning of greatness. God Himself has declared Him as Son - but Jesus is content to allow a human-being to baptise Him.
We are reminded again that Jesus did not cling to His divine nature but emptied Himself and became fully human. The One who was the Messiah, the One who was to come in glory, comes with humility and respect for the ministry of others.
These qualities were to characterise Jesusí ministry. He was not afraid to challenge those charged with ministering to Godís people when they failed to fulfil their responsibilities.
However, His attitude to those who are weak and fragile is unfailingly kind. His own humility gave people confidence to approach Him - His respect gave people a feeling of worth that enabled them to believe that they could change. Meeting Jesus - God and man - people learnt that God really loved and valued them - that Godís favour could rest on them too.
What does it mean for me?
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