Mk 1: 7-11 He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong 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.” New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

Walking the way of humility

Jesus was baptized by John, not because Jesus needed to repent, but to show his acceptance of John’s ministry, his own total commitment to God, and his solidarity with sinners. That baptism became a profound religious experience, which in Mark’s account Jesus alone perceived. It was also an ambivalent experience because the words “You are my son” comes from the psalm for a royal coronation (Ps 2:7), but “beloved,” “well pleased” and “the Spirit descending” are references to Isaiah’s first Servant Song (Is 42:1). Jesus was driven to the desert to discern whether God’s Son was to be a glorious sovereign or a humble servant. His responses to the temptations show he chose the way of humility. We’re one with him by our baptism, and so we’re beloved sons and daughters in whom the Father is well pleased. We’re also called to walk the way of humility and the beatitudes before we share Christ’s glory.

—Fr. Peter Fennessy, SJ is a retreat director at Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

 

Prayer

Show, O Lord, Thy ways to me,
and teach me Thy paths.
Direct me in Thy truth, and teach me,
for Thou art God my Saviour.

—St. Peter Faber, SJ