Monday, January 08, 2007

Contemplation #226
"When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too." Luke 3:21

The incarnation shows us the extent of God's love because the Creator chooses the lowly state of his own creatures in order to bring us peace. The incarnation is so much more than the birth of Jesus by the virgin Mary. It is also being tempted in all ways like us. The incarnation is expanded by every way Jesus participates with us. By taking on our flesh God involves himself in our lives so we might learn to join God is God's life. Jesus is immersed with everyone else, joining his creatures in this pursuit of the life of God. The One who holds that life finds common ground with those desiring the divine life of love. In this way Jesus' baptism in another aspect of the incarnation, God taking on our flesh to find us for himself.

Contemplation #227
"And as he was praying, heaven was opened . . ." Luke 3:21

Jesus was praying at his baptism. He was making the same intentional commitment to the way of God as everyone else who was coming to John. He welcomed that type of living under God's reign which he would describe as entering the Kingdom of God. Although he had no sin to repent of, no sin to be forgiven, Jesus was joining in this pledge of fidelity to God's holy ways. We can imagine that Jesus' prayer at his baptism was the expression of this direction for his life, the obedient choice to dedicate himself to the service of God. To this pledge of faith heaven opened, receiving the humble obedience of Jesus and affirming the eternal love of God. Heaven is open to us all, affirming love and grace to encourage our every step of faith.

Contemplation #228
"The Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove . . ." Luke 3:22

At Jesus' baptism the Holy Spirit comes on him to lead him into the desert for 40 days of struggle. What a beginning to his pledge to accept the way of God! The words of affirming love are soon put to the test in personal deprivation and temptation. Would Jesus hold faithfully to the promise of God's love even as the hunger set in? How quickly he could have doubted the love of God. And yet, it was when God's love was shown to Israel by bringing them out of slavery in Egypt, that they were led immediately into the wilderness. The history of Israel was repeated and redeemed in the life of Jesus as he lived faithfully where even his ancestors had not. Surely he has taken on himself our sins, and redeemed our lack of faith in his perfect faith.