Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Marna Rogers
by Sister Marna Rogers
The opportunity to break away and go to John the Baptist for Baptism must have been a refreshing moment for Jesus. He had already been quite busy.
Our family gathered at a small United Church of Christ Church in the town of Charlton, Massachusetts where the mother and father of the baby to be baptized had been married several years before. This baby was a miracle because his Mom had been diagnosed with cancer during her first pregnancy.
Travis Edmund Lemansky was quite taken with the small congregation who had gathered on a regular Sunday for this chance to welcome him into the community of faith. He was about a year old, and looking around, he saw many familiar faces, smiling shyly as he recognized them.
After the greeting, as the service began, Reverend Chase slipped into the ritual prayers for the Baptism. There was a container of holy water, and without warning, he lifted the branch of greens and blessed Travis, who looked completely shocked! He did not cry out, but looked to his parents, Ross and Katie, for validation, that what just happened was okay.
Reverend Chase and we clapped and welcomed him into the community of faith.
The service continued, as it did each Sunday, but I thought the sermon was particularly inspiring. The pastor talked at length about what we had just witnessed, and then spoke of the young members of the Congregation who had just returned from a service trip to Boston, preliminary to their confirmation, I assumed.
Reverend Chase had talked with each one who had been assigned to a soup kitchen, or homeless shelter, or day program in the heart of the city. For these young men and women from a small town in central Massachusetts, this was a special opportunity. I felt he was linking it to their faith formation, and the commitment they had made to the men and women they had met for that very brief weekend.
The lesson for me at this intimate Baptism event was that recognizing the places where we can make a difference in the world is like being splashed with holy water, a wake-up call to notice our world, and where in the world we need to be to respond with a heart full of faith and generosity. Though not all of us can go to the borders here and in Europe, Africa, and Asia, our prayers give the sisters, who are able to be there, courage to offer assistance and hospitality to those displaced by war and hardships learned as the people share their stories. We can follow the sisters who go to war-torn countries like South Sudan to work collaboratively with other congregations to educate and support students learning to ease out of the trauma of war and concentrate on learning for life. Like Jesus, we need to be baptized into new responses and surprised by the waters of blessing each opportunity offers us. May we re-appreciate our Baptism, and discover anew its graced call.
As we prepare for the Chapter of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, may we realize how linked we are in this preparatory time with all of our sisters all over the world.
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
The Gospel of the Lord