Sunday, 10 January 2016

The Baptism of the Lord

Read Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22.

We’ve reached the end of Christmastide for another year.  Over the last few weeks the Church has pondered and celebrated the mystery of the Incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, God becoming man.  Jesus’ conception and birth was the turning point of history, not just because things changed as a result but because all of history – before and after the Incarnation – turns on this point, all of history points to this event.  When the Day of Judgement comes, the scroll is finally opened and the vast saga of human history is laid open, all will see that it is a parable of Jesus Christ.

As it is true of the whole human race, so it is true of you individually.  In some mysterious way that we can see only through a glass darkly, the life of every human being finds its meaning and fulfilment in the life of the Nazarene.  This must be so, if there is to be any meaning and fulfilment at all, since all your sufferings and your inevitable death can only be fulfilled in Resurrection.

We catch hints of this truth in all sorts of places, at the most unexpected moments, and people have glimpsed it throughout salvation history; the Old Testament is just as much about Jesus as the New Testament.  Consider, for example, the story of Noah.  Whatever else it might be, it is a parable of Baptism, and in particular one might say it is a parable of Christ’s baptism.  Just as the waters of the flood cleansed the world of sin, the waters of Baptism purify the sinful soul, and they are able to do this precisely because they were themselves purified as Christ submitted Himself to John and the Jordan.  As Noah sent out a dove to discover if there was a place he could land and so dwell once more on the Earth, so the Father sent the Holy Spirit to find a place to land and dwell among us again, and the place He found was Jesus.  As God sent Noah out into the world to repopulate it and fill it with life and joy, so He sent Jesus to give new life to all and re-establish His Kingdom among fallen men.

And as it is true of Jesus, so it is true of you.  Yours is a legitimate place in history, and your life therefore is intimately connected to His.  You might not have seen or heard anything when you were baptized, but on that day God declared you beloved, and found another place to dwell on the Earth.  Never underestimate the importance of your own mission.  Now is the time to go forth.

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