Baptised on our behalf
“It is I who need baptism from you… and yet you come to me!” John’s words reverberate in the depths of our hearts as we reflect on this Sunday’s gospel.
John the Baptist is shocked when he sees Jesus approaching as one of those requesting to be baptised.
John’s preaching has caused many people to recognise their sins and to come to be baptised as a sign of their repentance. John has baptised them but this man, Jesus, is different. Jesus does not need repentance.
John recognises Jesus as a man of God above all others, a holy man: more than holy, sinless.
Jesus is approaching. His purpose is unmistakeable but confusing. Jesus, coming to be baptised?
John is overcome with a sense of his own unworthiness.
“I should be baptised by You,” John says.
But Jesus is clear. John is to baptise Jesus. John obeys. And something extraordinary takes place. John sees the heavens open and the Spirit descending like a dove and coming down upon Jesus. A voice speaks from Heaven: “This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.”
And in Jesus all of us are wrapped in the love of our Abba.
The beloved Son of God goes into the water on behalf of all of us. All of us, no-one excluded unless we choose to exclude ourselves. He has taken our humanity on Himself with all our sinfulness so we can recognise and live our kinship with Him. And He is affirmed by a voice from Heaven.
So how is this our story today?
Who are the people taking on themselves the weaknesses of their brothers and sisters as they stand with them by the river of their own reality?
From time to time, newspaper articles remind us of people in our prisons and those who minister to them, people who are trying to change and people, who are working to help them bring about change and a new fullness of life.
Like Jesus, those helping do not remain far off but go to the place where the others are, the ‘river’ (prison) where our brothers and sisters have been sentenced.
They do not stigmatise them as ‘criminals’ but see beyond and recognising them as brothers and sisters —giving time and energy to help them take their rightful place in our society.
There are others also, people who volunteer to mentor young people at risk. They try to help each one to be their best self, so they do not get enticed into criminal ways.
Let us pray
Thank You, God, for people who have been like John and Jesus in our lives and in the lives of others.
Forgive us the times we have forgotten and have closed our hearts to the needs of others. We have talked a lot about what wrong things people have been doing. We have not tried to help.
Open our hearts to our brothers and sisters. Help us to see what You are asking of us now and give us the courage to do it. Amen.
Sr Christina Araujo is a Dominican sister of the Sinsinawa Community