Thursday, January 5, 2012

Gospel Text for Sunday, 8 January 2012

Mark 1:4-13
John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

1 comment:

  1. Let us make no mistake. Jesus was fully human. And, of course, he was fully divine. The thing is people are scandalized to think of Jesus as fully human. It plagued the bishops of the early church and it challenges us today. We want Jesus to be different from us. We want Jesus to be other than us. Frankly, if Jesus was not fully human we don’t have to worry ourselves too much about following him, living as he lived, loving as he loved. We can excuse ourselves saying, “After all, Jesus is God and we are only human.”

    Jesus joined the throngs of ordinary people flocking to hear John preach repentance and be baptized. Like every other person there Jesus humbled himself, walked into the river, let himself die to his old life and be born new. And the voice he heard from Heaven affirmed, “You are my son the beloved. With you I am well pleased.” One thing for sure, the baptism of Jesus was a religious experience, an encounter between humanity and divinity, between the human person Jesus and the voice from Heaven. It marked Jesus as a holy man, the Son of God. The distance or separation between humanity and divinity was bridged, then and forever. Wouldn’t it be nice if the story ended here?

    But the story does not have a happily ever after endings. This is the beginning of a story, a real life drama. You know how it is. One moment, a peak religious experience and immediately, things go south.
    And this is what happened with Jesus. Immediately after the voice from heaven affirmed Jesus as the beloved Son, the Spirit drove him to the dangerous, uncivilized wilderness outside the boundaries of the established social and religious community. And Jesus spent the next forty days in the wilderness where he suffered human temptations and torment. Truly, our human story is not a happily ever after story. We have losses, we are shocked with bad news from our doctors and stock brokers and children and friends, things that we thought we could always count on crumble, and dreams we hung our futures on dissolve. All of that happened to Jesus as well.

    So where is the good news? Jesus revealed to us the blessedness of being fully human – blessed are the humble, the hungry, the sinners, blessed are those who weep over their loses and those who are persecuted for their goodness and honesty because in consenting to our humanity we encounter divinity. We are blessed, consecrated, sanctified, baptized; we are made holy in the messiness, losses and suffering of our lives because God is present with and for each and every fully human person. Jesus was never really alone in the wilderness, and neither are we.