BAPTISM OF THE LORD
Many people feel there’s something missing in their lives, a feeling akin to Augustine’s “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” It leaves a question in the heart that we struggle to resolve throughout life. For some it’s the feeling of needing more affirmation – from parents, family or someone significant. Or from life itself. For others it’s a sense of “Who am I? “What’s my true role in life?” “Why am I here?” We can spend a lifetime struggling to put the pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle.
In all our lives there’s a ‘before and after’ – like marriage, parenthood etc. Can I name any special ‘before and after’ moments in my life? For example, ‘What happened to bring faith alive and help me grow as a believer?’ This way of reflecting can help us grasp the significance of John’s baptism for Jesus himself. Jesus’ baptism was a real ‘before and after’ event, sustained by the ringing affirmation: “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” Surely the main purpose of the Gospel preached by Jesus is to allow baptism sink in so we can hear over time from the most significant Voice of all that we are beloved and incredibly alive – cf. John 10:10.
To hear that is to discover why we are here. It is to become more alert and alive to life’s purpose, to who we are and to who God is. Most of us were baptised as infants. And a moment should eventually come when we wake up to the reality of our baptism and find ourselves immersed in the primeval waters of life – cf. Genesis 1: 1-2; John 4: 4-42. In such moments we ‘get it’. Our eyes are opened to life’s significance and purpose, and we hear as for the first time that we are unbelievably loved and pleasing to our Maker. We emerge from the waters of baptism complete, so to speak, and ready to let happen whatever may be in store – e.g. Matt 16:24.
The grace of baptism wafts and wends its way through our lives over many years. “It takes great courage to set about regaining the lost rhythm of the soul. We generally postpone the work of self-realisation, of the inner journey, of the ultimate questions. Committed to a shallow agenda, we do not live at our deepest truth. We forget that if we do not live our lives abundantly now, we never will. And as we age, we can deeply regret the greatest tragedy of all, our unlived lives” – FR DANIEL O’LEARY, Treasured and Transformed 23.
And we must begin to live again,
We of the damaged bodies and assaulted minds,
Starting from scratch with the rubble of our lives
And picking up the dust
Of dreams once dreamt.
– Sheila Cassidy
Fr QQ – 01/04/2024