Mark 1:4-11 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.”
Reflection Jesus’ cousin John calls the people (then and now) to turn their lives around and be baptized as a public statement of their intention to live a changed life. Being dunked or sprinkled with water may be an empty ritual, simply going through the motions, or it may be one of the most radical things we ever do. We might choose to say yes, I repent, and change our lives. I have decided to die to my old way of life. I have decided to stop striving for security, safety, esteem, power and control. I have decided to stop trying to prove my worth or intelligence. I have decided to stop complaining about my situation and put my faith in God with me, right here, right now; God with me closer than my own breath, regardless of my circumstance.
Jesus heard John’s invitation to baptism, and took it on. Instead of becoming an honorable rabbi and assuming a socially acceptable place in the temple, Jesus humbled himself. He chose to give his life away for the good of others. He chose to wander the Judean desert, to drink wine with the low life, gather a motley crew of friends, touch the unclean, preach compassion, violate a fistful of social and religious customs, and dare to claim his identity as the Son of God..
Now here is the hard part. We are created in Jesus image and likeness. It is our responsibility to claim our identity too; our human identity with all its’ warts and wrinkles, strengths and temptations, loves and losses and every kind of suffering, and, our identity as daughters and sons of God, inheritors of the kingdom of God (bcp858) as made known in our baptism.
Here is the good news! During those forty grueling days, suffering every human trial after temptation in the Judean wilderness, Jesus was never alone. “The angels waited on him.” Jesus promises us nothing less. No matter our losses, how bad the news, the pain, the isolation or fear, when we consent to our full humanity we are never separate from divinity because we are the living Body of Christ, fully human and a bit divine.
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