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Vocation Meditation -
Baptism of the Lord, 2009

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John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. In his preaching he proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

To many of us, we ask questions like: "Was it necessary for Jesus to receive the baptism John the Baptist gave at the Jordan?" For Jesus, this event at the Jordan meant four things.

It was the moment of decision. After thirty years in Nazareth, He waited for a sign for Him to launch out his task officially to do His Father's business. The emergence of John was that sign. His role was to prepare the way. And Jesus decided to begin His mission.

It was the moment of identification. Jesus need not repent from sin. He saw the movement of people going back to God through John's preaching. With that 'Godward' movement of repentance it was time to identify Himself. He is the Son, the Lamb of God who alone can take away the sins of the world.

It was the moment of approval. Jesus had left home, the quiet village of Nazareth. He had decided on His course of action, and now looks for the right moment for the approval of God. "You are my Beloved Son." (Mark's Gospel) God directly speaking to Jesus. It was a personal experience which Jesus had and not in any sense a demonstration to the crowd. At this baptism, Jesus submitted His decision to God and was unmistakably approved. From then on, all the baptized are approved by God, take the name of Christ and become God's children, beloved by God!

It was the moment of equipment. At that moment the Holy Spirit descended on Him. The dove is the symbol of gentleness. In contrast, John's preaching had a message of the axe, of terrible sifting, of the consuming fire. It had a message of doom accompanied by fear and punishment. For Jesus, from the very beginning the Holy Spirit, likened to a dove, was a picture of gentleness. Jesus was equipped with power, grace and majesty. His message is good news. He will conquer hearts but the conquest will be the conquest of love.

Vocation Challenge:
My vocation is to live my baptismal calling to the full.
To follow my vocation, do I have the courage to identify my choice, to decide irrevocably, to actuate my decision and be assured that God equips me with necessary graces?

Dear God,
I believe you call me to follow You more closely. Grant me the light and the courage to identify clearly my choice, to decide on it irrevocably, to actuate my decision wisely and be constantly assured that You equip me with necessary graces I need. Amen.

For the full Gospel reading for this Sunday, visit the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops site.

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