Thought for the weekend
Fr Patrick McCafferty Corpus Christi, Belfast
This weekend, many Christians are recalling the Lord's Baptism, the central event of a threefold unveiling of the identity of Jesus as God's Beloved Son.
For 30 years, the Lord's life was hidden in Nazareth with His Mother and foster-father. He was simply known as "the carpenter's son" (Mark 6:3).
We are told nothing about the details of His hidden life, His progression through childhood into adulthood. The Holy Spirit, however, has not merely overlooked these three decades of the Saviour's earthly life. The hiddenness of Christ is a subject for our contemplation.
The vast majority of human beings live hidden, unknown lives. For most of His earthly life, the Lord Jesus, God among us, shares the mundane realities of our daily living.
The Lord's simple life in Nazareth tells us that every corner of the earth and every insignificant detail of who we are is immersed in God.
The incarnation - God's becoming flesh - is God's solidarity with us, drawing us into communion with Him. The Baptism of the Lord is at the centre of three events which clearly reveal God's closeness to all without exception:
His Epiphany where He is revealed as the Saviour of all nations, the Saviour who will reveal to all that "God has no favourites (Acts 10:34-35)."
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His Baptism in the River Jordan, which symbolises His immersion in our humanity, so as to wash away our sins.
The Wedding at Cana in Galilee when the Glory of His Love is seen for the first time and was symbolised by the beautiful wine that He created from water that was meant for purification purposes (John 2:1-11).
These three events make Him known clearly. His Father says of Him: "Here is my Servant, my Beloved Son, in whom my soul delights. I have endowed Him with my Spirit (Isaiah 42:1)."
Isaiah had once cried out to God, "tear the heavens open and come down!" (Isaiah 64:1); and now, at His Baptism, the heavens do indeed open (see Matthew 3:13-17) and the Spirit descends from the Father, upon Jesus, consecrating Him to His saving mission and anointing Him with the power to save and deliver us, "to open the eyes of the blind …. and free those who live in darkness from the dungeon" (Isaiah 42:7).
Our lives are now hidden with Christ in God. When He is revealed, we too shall appear with Him, in all our glory, as God's children. For our real life is Christ (see Colossians 3:3).