Baptized by John

Scripture      Matthew 3:13-17


         Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.

                        John would have prevented him, saying,

                    “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

                       But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so for now;

                          for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.”

                        Then John consented.

                           And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water,

                           suddenly the heavens were opened to him

                              and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.

               And a voice from heaven said,

                   ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”



This is a transition Gospel. Very simply stated, Matthew says, “Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan. It has been all of 30 years now that Jesus has been living a relatively hidden life at Nazareth, growing in wisdom, age and grace with Mary and Joseph. We are invited to ponder in our reflection this week the quiet, unfolding drama of Jesus' leaving home and starting his public ministry. We can be certain that he was responding to those interior movements of Spirit inspiring him and activating his life directions. Yes, the call to move out of his home in Nazareth, to leave the familiar and the secure way of life, must have begun with a strong interior prompting that persisted, prodded, lured and called him to make this transition from his hidden life into his public life. Now was the ‘kairos’, the right time! He is interiorly free to move. It was God’s loving will which was urging him to begin his public life in order to accomplish the work of our redemption. It is time to leave and say good bye to this period of his life.

Transitions in life always announce themselves with an ending of something, followed by an in-between time and then, in due course, comes an entirely new beginning, a new direction. I like to contemplate Nazareth … and look in upon that most tender familial scene of discernment and leave-taking. Jesus' own interior listening affirms that this is the time  for him to move into his public ministry. His sense of the Father's call to this spiritual 'direction' is clear and focused now, and he is ready to move forward. Mary, too, has been pondering and listening, discerning the call of God upon her son. She is present to Jesus now as a motherly support in his own discernment.  She must have known in her heart the loving will which was urging Jesus to set out and begin. And so their tender farewells were a mark of mutual encouragement and support. They would go on, in their separate ways, abiding in a love that would strengthen them to live out their unique 'calls' with utmost fidelity.
Since this was going to be a major shift, a radical change in the direction of Jesus' life and ministry, he presents himself to John the Baptist, his cousin,  to undergo his sacrament of initiation. Jesus' willingness to submit to the Law and to submit to a "baptism of repentance" is preparation for his breakthrough experience of hearing the confirmation of the Father's voice: "This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This sets Jesus on his course, confirmed in his identity and destiny.  He commits himself to it with his full being. Carl Jung, the psychoanalyst, wrote that the strength and conviction of one's vocation call was integral to the individuation process and so these interior and exterior ‘confirmations’ were signs that God's call was upon the person.
"What is it, in the end, that induces a man to go his own way and to
rise out of unconscious identity with the mass...? It is what is
commonly called vocation... (which) acts like a law of God from
which there is no escape...
Anyone with a vocation hears the voice of the inner man: he is called."
 (C.G. Jung, The Development of Personality, as quoted in The Christian Archetype, Edward Edinger, p. 45
Like Jesus, we too will need to submit ourselves first to the outer authority of another - a John, a precursor of the Lord - in preparation for the experience of the transpersonal "Other" within us. We, too, need to commit ourselves with our whole being to the unique "vocation" of our lives. We might ask ourselves if we have humbled ourselves to be in submission to another person - a spiritual director or minister or priest or a wise friend/spouse/confidant. Jesus came to John the Baptizer, his cousin. When John heard his request he felt so reluctant and unworthy to perform Jesus’ baptism. He only consented when Jesus counselled him with …it is proper for us to fulfill the Law. Jesus’ ‘let it be so for now’ seems to speak of the need for a communal acceptance of one’s calling. Jesus allows and embraces this step in his being called forth into his public ministry. It is always a wise protection and a safe and sure way to do one’s spiritual journey when one shares one’s personal discernment with another wise person and surrenders one’s own ‘knowing’ to a larger communal discernment. In so doing, the confirmation signs are given and one becomes situated in the larger mission of the Church. Have you heard the Father's voice speak these words to you:
                     "This is my beloved daughter/son in whom I am well pleased.”
Have you gone down into the waters of the unconscious and sought a re-birth? Are you disposed to a visitation of the Spirit upon you to give you your destiny, your true identity?  The Gospel reminds us that immediately after Jesus' baptism at the Jordan he "withdrew then into the desert to undergo a fast of forty days without food or drink and in prayer and solitude." This sequence refers to the danger of ego-inflation that accompanies such  a deep and intimate encounter with God. The fast will keep Jesus (and us) grounded in his/our humanity, interiorly disciplined to the voice of the Father and the promptings of the Spirit. He is being spiritually exercised to "do only the things that the Father wills."  This desert experience of 40 days and 40 nights is a period of intense preparation for Jesus' public life and ministry. The Gospel reminds us that for Jesus and for us, a time of more intense solitude and prayer will dispose our souls to receive the Holy Spirit, "the Spirit who alone guides us in our ministries".
In the desert, one is emptied, purified of one's own plans, ambitions, and egotistical desires. The prayer, fasting, and the continual mortification of the senses cause us to undergo a veritable struggle with the false self. Besides the desert being the place of the great purification, it is also the place of the great transformation. Here a soul encounters the living God. From within the solitude emerges the transforming fire of God's love for us  - felt personally. In our desert, we feel the being stripped of so much distraction and excess that surrounds us in our ordinary life. In the desert, the purity and clarity of one's "call" emerges into our consciousness. There is a strong sense of being called and being sent forth on a particular mission. The soul "knows" God is the guide and shining torch-bearer leading one into one's unique ministry. The desert solitude then is a pre-disposition to awaken our listening hearts to our sense of mission and ministry.

Carrying Grace             You are my Beloved child. Listen to my voice.



#5 arletteh 2011-01-12 18:52
Yes, the wilderness comes in so many ways---unusual, unexpected----t hen, there are those rendings of the veil between heaven and earth, like Jesus'baptism,a nd the reconnection to ETERNAL LOVE.Found a much -needed reconnection today in listening to Beethoven,s 5th symphony, especially the last movement.Our God is unfathomable,an d yet as close as that Child in the manger. Thank you all!
#4 Mark Dickinson 2011-01-10 16:17
May the celebration and remembrance of the baptism of Jesus be a moment of reflection and transformation for each
of us ... a time when we withdraw to be with God, to know God, to connect with God. A time of peace, a time of
transition ... and a time of transformation.
#3 Mark Dickinson 2011-01-10 16:15
Transitional moments are often (and frequently) transformationa l moments. For Jesus, his baptism becomes that moment when he fully, and completely, experiences his unqiue connection to God. But it is a connection that runs deeper than with most people ... it is a connection that dismantles all of his false (human) self so he emerges with only his true self: the spirit and presence of the Indwelling God. It is his new beginning .. his rebirth in the spirit and wisdom of God.
Beyond the historical signficance of Jesus' baptism .. there is a deeper message for all us. A goal in our own
individual lives is to find, and connect with, the true Divine Presence that dwells and lives within each of us. It is (as emmanuella puts so well) that moment when we discover the will of God for our own lives. It becomes our own rebirth in God; our own moment of discovery .... of our own experience of that personal connection with THE ETERNAL LOVE that calls us to be love for one another.
May the celebration and remembrance of the baptism of Jesus be a moment of reflection and transformation for each
one of us ... a time when we withdraw to be with God, to know God, to connect with God. A time of peace, a time of
transition ... and a time of transformation.
#2 arletteh 2011-01-09 20:13
An intriguing word, “ vocation” ! Many years I “wondered how one came to know God’s will for oneself . Then I came upon a joyful discovery: “Vocation is when God’s plans for us and our plans come together.” Your comments on the process are very helpful : the prodding, persistent, luring (the “ enticing” in Jeremiah , ch. 20,7) promptings And finally ,and interspersed, the still, quiet voice .God is persistent if we wish to hear. God “prevails.” Those are the inner workings, on the altar of the heart. Yet there , is the danger of being too subjective and of having an inflated ego when these inspirations first come .Thus you indicate the need for the community’s and/or another exterior authority’s discernment . It is often like walking a fine tightrope . Yet, the Spirit , in persisting to pursue us, will also let us know on occasion: “You are my beloved child!”
#1 guyb 2011-01-09 14:17
Our hearts have been awakened to our sense of mission and ministry . . . the desert experience comes in many forms . . .

Guy and Marian

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