Is 42:-1-4, 6-7; Acts 10: 34-38; Mt 3:13-17
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
I once saw a poster that posed a question which has given me food for thought ever since. The question was: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I think this question gets right to the heart of the vague feeling many of us in the Church carry about inside of us. It’s the feeling that we are in some way participants in a culture which is at least unconsiously trying to water down the gospel message at almost every turn.
What exactly IS the gospel message that is at the heart of Christian discipleship? What would be the evidence necessary to “convict” us? The first reading gives us the answer: According to the prophet Isaiah, God has called the people of Israel – the people of both the Old and the New Testaments – to “open the eyes of the blind, to bring out persons from confinement, and form the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” To be a disciple of Jesus Christ is to recognize -on the heart level, not just the intellectual level – that human beings long to find love but do not believe they are worthy of it and do not have even the slightest idea at times on where to find it. As the old country western song proclaims, being human means “looking for love in all the wrong places” and finding ourselves imprisoned in the darkness of loneliness or regret. Too often, we end up grieving the loss of what was good in our lives.
Those of us who follow Christ – who have allowed Christ to transform their hearts through the Holy Spirit – have the same aching need for love and the same confusion about how to find it as the rest of the human family. But we also possess – or, more accurately, are possessed by – a more conscious, more palapable, more present relationship with the Spirit of Love. It is this Spirit – given to us through Christ – that enables us to walk in the darkness bathed in light. And in doing so, we gradually are freed from our own imprisonment and become more and more able to free others whom we meet along the way.
Is your life marked by a movement towards freedom and light? Are you a source of hope and empowerment in the rich and complex mix of relationships in your life? If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)