Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Baptism of the Lord - Year B

Isaiah 55:1-11; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11

When God began the work of creation we are told that the first thing he said was: Let there be lightand there was light.

What was that light? He did not create the sun and the moon and the stars until the 4th day, so what was that light?

I believe it was the light in which God lives, the light which he himself is - but that’s only my answer.

Isaiah 29:15 tells us that evil men like to work in the dark. He says: Woe to those … whose deeds are in the dark. All God’s works are done in the light and so, as he began the mighty work of creation which would culminate in the birth of his only Son, he first of all said: Let there be light - so that this mighty work might be done in the light.

When Adam and Eve sinned, the world, God’s beautiful creation, was plunged into darkness; the sun still shone, the moon still beamed, the stars still twinkled, but ‘the light’ had been eclipsed by sin. God had, in a sense, and only in a sense, been banished from the earth.

Now there was darkness over the earth, a new darkness, which did not come from God. This is not the darkness we find when we turn away from the sun but the darkness we find when we turn away from God, the true Light. This was the dark side of free will.

This darkness lay over all creation and affected all creation, especially human souls. And Satan rejoiced in the darkness. It was his kingdom.

Then, one dark night about 2000 years ago an infant was born into the darkness. St John says, at the beginning of his Gospel: All that came to be had life in him.

All that came to be had life in him …. but, as St John says: the world did not know him.
Into the darkness of the world came the infant Jesus - a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower. Satan was very worried.

In a blaze of heavenly glory he was announced to the shepherds. By the light of a star he was found by the wise men. No one lights a lamp to hide it under a bushel basket and neither does God. The Father wants his Son to be known and loved.

And so we come to the Baptism.

Jesus stands on the bank of the river Jordan, looking down at the line of sinners waiting for Baptism from John. He is the sinless one, the light of the world, and yet, and yet, he chooses to be one with us. He steps down off the bank and lines up with sinful mankind. He joins the queue.

The light stands among them (and among us); unknown to them (and to us). How we should ponder this picture and meditate on its meaning!

Jesus takes off his outer garment and enters the waters. Usually it’s water that washes us clean but now Jesus washes the waters clean.

What a feast of meditation is set before us here! The waters find no impurity in the Pure One, instead he purifies the waters and makes them capable of sanctifying us.

He baptises the waters which were meant to baptise him and creates a holy place in which all humanity can find holiness and salvation.

And then the heavens are torn open. I think here of a certain person who gives me Christmas a gift each year and asks me to save the wrapping paper. I am not allowed to tear open the gift.

But the heavens were torn open - the dividing wall between the kingdom of light and the world of darkness. It was torn, rent open. Obviously that wall wouldn’t be needed anymore. It was destroyed. The Father was so excited he tore open the heavens like he tore open the veil of the Temple at the moment of his Son's death.

You are my Son, I love you. My favour rests on you! And down came the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove. What a scene!

Thank you, Jesus, for choosing us! Thank you for lining up with the sinners! Thank you for the waters of Baptism!

Thank you, Father, for sending him to us! For announcing him to us! Thank you for bringing the light of Heaven back to earth, to my heart! Thank you for saving us!

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