The feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which we celebrate on the Sunday after the feast of the Epiphany, marks the official end of Christmas. While we put away our crèches and take down our Christmas trees and other decorations, we can ponder the implications of the baptism of Christ.
The Son of God, divine in nature, shared the bond of humanity with us. This realisation alone is almost more than our minds can encompass.
The Christ who became like man was like us in all ways but sin. He remained one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, yet He chose to share our humanity and open the way for us to salvation.
His divinity meant that He did not need to be baptised, yet He followed the tradition of His time and was baptised by His cousin, John. His acceptance of this baptism gives us a lesson in humility and obedience that we may find difficult to follow, yet, which ultimately leads us to a closer relationship with the Divine.
One of our most pressing needs as we enter 2021 is the necessity to live with the pressures brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After more than nine months of restrictions meant to protect us and those around us, we are all tired and impatient of the mask-wearing, social distancing, and the continuous need to sanitise our hands and our physical environment.
Our rebellion is apparent on the streets, at our unauthorised parties, at our beaches and in bars across the country. We protest what we see as impositions by the Government on our freedom to make decisions ourselves and to follow our accustomed way of life.
We voice our suspicions that we are victims of a global conspiracy meant to suppress either our birth rate or our freedom to live, unhindered by the prying eyes of some foreign power.
We rant aloud that the rules create an environment of inequity in which some are free to ignore the law while the vast majority must obey under pain of prosecution.
Humility is a difficult virtue to acquire. When it is seen as submission to the will of others, it is taken to be servility.
Submission to the will of Almighty God, our loving and faithful Father, meant to ensure our happiness and fulfilment despite our human weaknesses, is a conscious decision that we must make but which we find difficult to act upon.
While we chastise our children to be obedient, we adults see obedience to the law as an option. We break traffic laws, litter our environment, terrorise our neighbourhoods with loud music and illegal fireworks, and think little of underpaying our employees who are desperate for work in a depressed economic environment.
Of course, blind obedience to any human being or institution is neither desirable nor productive in the long run. It is also downright dangerous. Humility, which is mistaken to be servility denies our intrinsic worth as children of God.
As a people, however, we must live in such a way that we promote not only our own interests but also the best interests of our neighbours and our environment. These are not mutually exclusive, but they will call for a conscious change of mindset and a desire to serve God in the everyday scheme of our lives.
Surely, our aim should be to have the favour of God resting upon us.