MySpiritualAdvisor.com’s Mark Kurowski reflects on the Baptism of Jesus, Rodney Dangerfield (remember him?), swimming, diving and your life on earth and in heaven. Interested? Listen to this podcast of his reflection on the readings for the Baptism of Jesus. Please read Matthew 3:13-17. For Audio, “read more” below. #GreatPreaching #Prayer #Sermons #Homilyhelper #Baptism #SwimmingLessons #WhoCanYouHelp #BaptismofJesus #Messiah #LoveGodandNeighbor
For MySpiritualAdvisor.com, this is Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 1/12/2014 The Baptism of the Lord Sunday
Please pause this audio and read Matthew 3:13-17.
A good friend of ours recently got a job as a swimming instructor at a local YMCA. He was recounting how a young man in his class would not allow himself to “knee dive” into the pool. The child just knelt next to the pool with his hands together in front of his face and squeezed his eyes tightly shut hoping he would disappear into thin air. To which our friend said, “You will be OK, but you won’t learn to swim if you don’t get wet. You can do it.” I will get back to this later.
There was a comedian named Rodney Dangerfield years ago whose tag line was, “I don’t get no respect.” He built an entire career around it. The Baptism of the Lord is the Rodney Dangerfield of holy days. It is based on the Baptism of Jesus which occurs in all the Gospels. Scholars think that the reason it is attestable historical fact, in other words, it is undeniably true, is because it is embarrassing to think that Jesus, who was without sin would need to be Baptized which “takes away sin.” So, it must be true if the Christian Community had to tell people why this happened.
It is one of the least attended Sundays of the year. It happens in the U. S. right after the New Year’s Day holiday and everyone has just partied their way through December. But, it does everything that makes a theologian excited about faith because it has to do with you and me going to heaven.
Isaiah says, the Messiah will “bring justice, will not cry, will not lift up his voice, be faint or be crushed.” Peter in the reading from Acts connects the Baptism of Christ to his dying on the Cross and rising again. That means we are looking toward Christ’s resurrection in the Christmas Cycle, not just beginning on Ash Wednesday. Isaiah’s passage points to God’s justice being founded on forgiveness. The words haunt us of the horrible beating and crucifixion, which the Lord endured FOR YOU without saying a word and without being faint. Peter says the message of peace begins in this moment of the baptism by John.
Most importantly for us, the baptism of Jesus is the first public proclamation in the Gospels that it is God who came down from heaven to live our life. The fact that Jesus is baptized means that he was to live the life we are supposed to live. He was baptized. He accepted his mission from God on this earth, even to the point of death. He is both God and human in one and combines us in him through baptism. Those of us who are baptized are now connected to God through our shared baptism with him. Why is that important? It means that we are in heaven where Christ is already because we are part of Christ through our baptism. We can access that source of power for our lives when things just stink.
When the Holy Spirit came down in Jesus’ baptism, it means that we receive the Holy Spirit, too, in our baptism. Why does that matter? Because we can hear God from within through the Holy Spirit given to us in our baptism. God is within us! That is a source of power for everyday life, a source of courage when we must do the insurmountable, and it is a place from which we can find purpose and meaning in our life and for our enemies, friends and people we do not know. If we can be given the Holy Spirit within, then it means humans were meant to receive the Holy Spirit. Why would we kill anyone, born or unborn, when they could receive the Holy Spirit who will give purpose, meaning, courage and power to any life no matter what the circumstances?
This is a great day. It is a theological day. It is a day when we see that Baptism gives us entrance into heaven because baptism is tied to Jesus Christ. Get wet, folks. We need to get wet. We need to get wet with the waters of baptism by remembering our baptism and being thankful or by getting baptized if we have not been. How can we get wet when we were baptized as a baby? We get wet by remembering all that Baptism, Jesus’ baptism, gave him and gives us.
Baptism is when Jesus’ public ministry begins. Our ministry to God and our ministry to others begins with our baptism. We need to get wet by remembering our baptism called us to a purpose in life to serve God and others in any context in which we find ourselves. Where are you in your life right now? How could you minister to God by praising him right now? In a bad spot? What is good in this moment? Give God praise. In a good spot? Count all of your blessings and trace the workings of God in all of it and give him praise. Minister to God through daily prayer, reading of the Scriptures and going to Mass or service.
Get wet, my friend. Get wet by finding ways to serve others in Jesus’ name. Preach the Gospel at all times in your words and use actions to bolster that message. Get wet by thinking of who in your life right now needs help. Who is it for you? Think of how you can use what God has given you to make a difference in their lives. Get wet. Get wet by sprinkling the blessings God has given you to others. If you are too broke, give your time and give your ear. You are a precious gift that God can give to someone else. Get wet. Whatever it is that you can do, get wet with the living waters of Baptism flowing out from you into the lives of others who will then turn and give God praise.
You will never learn to be in ministry until you jump in the pool. Amen? Amen.
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