Looking Back … and Ahead

Our Adventures in Grace pilgrimage continues and I hope all of you are signed up and joining us for the spiritual ride. I want to remind you again of the many ways that you can catch up with previous adventures and join the ones yet to come. Please go to our website and familiarize yourself with the many resources and options to engage in this unique spiritual adventure.

     Two weeks ago Terry Nelson-Johnson helped us to go more deeply into our reflection on Baptism and into the realm of being Drenched in the sacredness and grace of Baptism. He continually refers to Baptism as the Portal Sacrament, as it most often gets us started in the chronological order of Sacramentality.  However, portal also refers to ongoing attention. If we see ourselves as drenched in God’s love and grace, perhaps we can see ourselves as continually baptized. This once again fits the consideration of Baptism from a noun to a verb; in other words, not baptized as an event in the past, but as an ongoing immersion into the sacredness of life. Seeing ourselves as drenched might add more gusto to the importance of realizing that we are baptized over and over again.

     Serious consideration of the second reading of this weekend’s Mass keeps the waters of Baptism flowing. In his letter to the Romans Paul says, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body.”  As he continues, we see the essential nature of being baptized in our identity as the Body of Christ. The passage continues, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.”

     So let’s embrace the drenching grace of baptism.  Let us see ourselves as baptized into the body of Christ. If this is a portal experience, all other sacraments depend on that drenching.

     Terry asked us to consider some related questions:

     •  Who am I? If we have been baptized into the Body of Christ, there is only one answer: I AM BAPTIZED; not I was baptized.

     •  Over the years who have been your Primary Baptismal Ministers?  Who has helped you to see your primary identity?  Thank them.

     He also suggests that we be vigilant about and take notes of moments of “Little Baptisms,” moments of refreshment, rejuvenation, affection, embrace.

     As we look ahead to this week’s Gospel from Luke, we appreciate the connection with last week’s from John, which told us of the miracle of Jesus changing water into really good wine (and I underscore REALLY GOOD wine) at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. In the fourth Gospel from Luke, this is described as his first sign, otherwise called miracles. 

     Mary, or the Mother of Jesus as she is referred to, ushers Jesus into his public ministry in this story. “Do whatever he tells you” she says to the servers. This week we hear a hybrid of passages from Luke, telling us his version of the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  Luke describes his technique of storytelling to his friend Theophilus in the very first verses of the first chapter. The story then skips to the fourth chapter and we hear Jesus returning to his home of Nazareth as an adult, standing and proclaiming from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Then he boldly and directly tells those listening, and those of us still listening, that the prophecy of a savior with the Spirit of the Lord upon him, anointing  him to bring glad tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty, recovery of sight, freedom in a year of great drama that lies ahead, is fulfilled in him and in our hearing.

     Both of these accounts tell of the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus as an adult.  The reason this is important is that we are in a short period of Ordinary Time now in the Church year.  The Christmas Season has concluded and we await Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, this year on March 2.

     This short period of time gives the Church the opportunity to fill in a gap between the adolescent Jesus who found a home in the temple and was found there by worried parents, and the adult Jesus who is setting off on his own adventure in grace, telling stories, working miracles, preaching the good news.  All of this was done to advance to his real purpose: to suffer, die and rise from the dead in the Paschal Mystery in which we are all called to participate. Next week we hear of the resistance and criticism that he endures as this adventure begins.

     I hope these stories deepen your appreciation for this unordinary period of Ordinary Time.

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