January 13, 2019 — The Baptism of the Lord
IS 42:1-4, 6-7 or IS 40:1-5, 9-11; PS 29:1-4, 9-10 or PS 104:1B-4, 24-25, 27-30; ACTS 10: 34-38 or TI 2:11-14; 3: 4-7; LK 3:15-16; 21-22
What a treasure trove of stewardship lessons we find in our Gospel reading today on this feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Today’s Gospel is one we read often, so it is easy to lose sight of just how incredible it is that Jesus wished to be baptized in the Jordan River by His cousin, John. We just spent the last two weeks marveling at the fact that this Savior of ours was born as a baby in a crude stable for our sake, and now this! Stop and contemplate our Lord in all His perfection waiting quietly and patiently in line with a bunch of sinners (like us!) in order to “lead by example.” His love and humility in serving and self-giving are beyond all telling.
Certainly, the sinless Savior did not need a baptism of repentance! John himself noted that in comparison to Jesus, he was not even worthy to loosen His sandal straps. But Jesus humbly made Himself one with his people to draw us to Him and create a relationship with us so that we would be open to His teachings and influence.
In response, we should be filled to overflowing with gratitude to such a gracious God — an overflow that must express itself in our own giving back to God through our sharing of time, talents and treasure. In fact, when we allow the words and actions of Jesus in the Gospel to enter deeply into our minds and hearts, we will be compelled to give ourselves to Him and others out of love for Him.
In addition to the gratitude that Jesus’ baptism should inspire, we can also study His actions at the Jordan River as a powerful example of the servant-leadership He displays time and again throughout His public ministry. We see in our Lord a style of leadership characterized by humility and leading by example.
As a servant-leader, we also see that Jesus leads by example. He doesn’t just tell the people they need to be baptized. He shows them how and does it Himself to teach them. To lead like Jesus we, too, must “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk.” If we want those we lead at home, in ministry or at work to be generous and hard-working, then we must show them how to do this by demonstrating generosity and hard work ourselves.
And just in case there was any doubt about the extraordinary actions of Jesus that day at the Jordan River, we learn of the powerful affirmation of the Father who, immediately after the baptism, opens the heavens, sends the Holy Spirit upon Jesus in bodily form and says audibly, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased.” Wow!
Let us be filled with gratitude for our amazing God and be reminded that when we are grateful followers of Jesus and servant-leaders in imitation of Him, the Father will be well-pleased with us, too.