The moment of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan is an event so important it appears in all four of the Gospels. I wonder if it is the moment when Jesus’ lifelong discernment of his special vocation – to make God’s love known in the heart of the world – was clear to him, accepted and confirmed?
Jesus was always a bit out of step; he had not followed the norm of settling down and raising a family. Otherwise, he was fully a part of the life of Nazareth. Jesus had wept at their funerals and danced at their weddings.
Now in middle age, he was driven to the banks of the Jordan. A motley crowd of people – tax collectors, prostitutes, soldiers – gathered to accept the message of repentance. He sensed the crowd’s spiritual hunger and the distain of pious onlookers. These people of the fringes captured his heart. His call was to be in solidarity with them. Without hesitation, he threw aside his robe and got in the line snaking toward John.
I imagine him raising his head as the water poured down and looking up with great joy – his call was confirmed. Later in his hometown, Jesus would proclaim his mission statement: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.”
Reflection by Maureen Chicoine, RSCJ
Tapestry by John Nava, Los Angeles Cathedral
Courtesy of www.sacredartofjesus.com