- The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The first chapter of the Gospel of Mark speaks to the preparation of Christ Jesus for His public ministry, which is very similar to our preparation. In secret, God the Father declared the mission for His only begotten Son and, in secret, “He was born of woman and prepared. Then John the Waymaker was sent, whom Jesus met and was baptized by in the Jordan River shortly before His public ministry began. For us, the Sacrament of Baptism marks the pivotal turning point on the way to ascent, as we are cleansed of humanities’ ‘Original Sin’ and are forgiven of all previous personal sins.
Inasmuch as our mission is similar to His in several ways, in other ways it is drastically different. Christ Jesus was sent to destroy sin and death. He who did not know sin took on all the sins of humanity at His Baptism. In other words, the Jews and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem went out into the desert to receive forgiveness of their sins through the baptism of John in the Jordan River, but when He who had no sins to be forgiven of came to be baptized the opposite affect held to be true. Speaking figuratively now, it is to say, that all of the sins that humanity had committed against God had never left the water into which they were washed, but when John the Waymaker had taken the true sacrificial Lamb and immersed Him into the water, all of humanities sins were poured, infused, and absorbed into His flesh, once and for all (Cf. Heb. 10:11-14), and this was the fulfillment of sacred Scripture:
- “When he has completed the atonement rite for the sanctuary, the meeting tent and the altar, Aaron shall bring forward the live goat. Laying both hands on its head, he shall confess over it all the sinful faults and transgressions of the Israelite’s, and so put them on the goat’s head. He shall then have it led into the desert by an attendant. Since the goat is to carry off their iniquities to an isolated region, it must be sent away into the desert” (Cf. Heb. 10:11-14).
Likewise, Christ Jesus, after taking on the sins of humanity was led by the Spirit into the desert where He remained for forty days, being tempted by Satan. This is why I do not teach others to imitate the Jesus of the Bible, because our mission is not identical to His. We are not the Lamb of God. Yet, as Christ Jesus received a special outpouring of the Holy Spirit after His Baptism, so did His Mother Mary and the Apostles at Pentecost (Cf. Acts. 1:13-14, 2:1-4), and so do we at the Sacrament of Confirmation or at whatever time that God finds to be perfect.
This unique outpouring increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit within us – whereas we are now more closely united with the Holy Trinity and to the Church. Through this outpouring of grace we are endowed with the special ability to always choose good and flee from evil and are strengthened to spread and defend the good news through our words, walk, and works, and to never be ashamed of the Cross (Cf. CCC 1302-1305).
In consequence of this outpouring of the Holy Spirit we can have victory and joy during our lifelong desert experience of temptation and suffering. Only because of this outpouring of grace can we be effective preachers, teachers, and healers in the name of Jesus (Love). The deep inner craving found in all disciples of God is to be free to serve Him without the hindrance of self-will. That degree of servitude is the ultimate fruit of the outpouring of grace.
Without receiving this special grace of the Holy Spirit one will never be able to persevere in one’s vocation(s) with true joy. To serve as a disciple without being prepared for discipleship is impossible. Neither can we come into our mission, lest a way has first been prepared for us by God.
Our Heavenly Father is like the Gardener looked upon the remaining nations to come forth; those who will have the happy chance to hear the good news in the last days before the womb of woman becomes barren. With His hand over all the nations, the Gardener selects one at a time, one singular grain of dirt and says, “Dirt you belong to me. I am your Creator. Holy Love has prepared a mission for you. Dirt you are and to dirt you are sent. I command you to bear fruit for the sake of my only seed.” So the dirt is sent and a new nation is born of woman who, along with the environs and his choices, prepares the dirt for what the Gardener has willed. The Gardner, seeing the time approaching, sends out other grains of dirt to prepare the way for this particular grain, and when the fullness of time has come, when the dirt (the nation) will receive its seed, the Christ says, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you” (Jn. 20:21-22). Then He breathes upon the nation and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (Ibid).
– The above is an excerpt from my book Cooperating with God: the Bridegroom’s Prayer.
As you reflect upon the readings at Mass today, here are some questions for you to consider:
- What have you done with your inheritance and all of God’s graces and helps that came with it? Have you made the most of it or have you squandered it?
- When you get a chance reflect upon the meaning of your Baptismal vows and how they apply to your life now.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
Scripture texts in this blog are taken from the New American Bible with Revised New Testament and Revised Psalms © 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.