Thursday, March 1, 2012

Lent: Luminous Thursdays

Lent: Luminous ThursdaysThursdays, the mysteries are from John Paul II's Luminous series. The first of these is the Baptism of Jesus. Openness to the Holy Spirit is the fruit of this mystery.As Catholics, particularly cradle Catholics, we are baptized as infants before we can hold our own head up, much less make decisions about our Faith-life. In Jesus's time, as infants you were presented in the temple (that's going to be the topic for the fourth Joyful Mystery). However, it was fairly common in those days to have prophets, such as John the Baptist, preach repentance, forgiveness of sins, and baptism (Matthew 3:1-6). Therefore, it wasn't unheard of to be an adult and repent of your sins and be baptized. But, the baptism then wasn't the same as we receive now simply because Christ had not yet opened that particular door. John's message was not terribly unique. Prior to him there were many prophets scattered through the Old Testament. Some were well-received, others not so much. They all had their purpose, even if their days were of a limited number. Of course, we know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, about John's unique mission. John's mission was to prepare the world for the Savior's coming. We are also privileged to know that John recognized Jesus for who and what He was even in the womb (Luke 1:41).
Since the fetal Jesus was already recognizable to another fetus, we have some evidence that Jesus was special (and that small though they may be, fetuses are living humans, but I digress). We also know that God is all good and sins are contrary to God. So it follows that Jesus, the son of God, was sinless. Therefore, Jesus had no need to repent and ask forgiveness for sins -- He had none! Why, then, did He get baptized by John in the Jordan?Jesus's baptism was not for Himself, it was, just like His entire life and death, for us. That we may believe in Him and gain everlasting life. Missouri is known as the "Show Me" state. The people in Jesus's time were no different, called "stiff-necked" and "obstinate" several times in Scripture (Deuteronomy 31:27 and Baruch 2:30 are two examples) . In order to have their eyes and hearts open, they had to witness something incredible. Jesus's baptism was incredible. A voice called out, "This is my Beloved son, with whom I am well-pleased." In the sky, a dove appeared where no dove and been (Mark 1:9-11). That was certainly out of the ordinary! Even then, the people were not entirely convinced. Jesus's hometown folks were scandalized by Him (Mark 6:1-6). Even Jesus's disciples didn't fully recognize His divinity (John 6:36 is one example). And we all know the story of "doubting Thomas" (John 20:24-29). It is hardly surprising with these stories that many today do not believe. Yet, if we have even a mustard seed sized belief, incredible things are possible (Matthew 17:19). In our belief, we can live the life we are called to live and gain more for Christ. Let us pray for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes, hearts, and souls!

1 comment:

Steve Finnell said...

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