At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11 NIV
I remember my baptism. It was at St. Thomas Moore Catholic Church at the Great Easter Vigil in 2009. I had been singing in the church for a few years by that point but finally decided to be officially baptized to join the church. As I went from my seat to the baptismal font, I did not have any idea of where my life and ministry would lead. I knew there was a call to church but I was not able to figure out what that call was and how I was supposed to serve the church. I wonder if this is how Jesus felt as he walked toward John the Baptist to be baptized.
Baptism is an important part in the lives of many Christians. It is a symbolic joining of a community. A union with Jesus and the church. For many, Jesus included, it can mark the first step of a person’s ministry on earth. In the first chapter of Mark, Jesus is baptized and begins his ministry of healing the sick, calling disciples, going through temptations, and preaching.
Just a look at how Jesus was baptized draws parallels to other stories in the Bible. Jesus descends into the water similar to his descent into Hell and he rises out of the water with new life just like the resurrection story we will read later. The symbolism of the Mark story of Baptism includes the Holy Spirit descending on Jesus in the form of a dove which calls to mind the story of Noah and the Great Flood when the earth was covered in water and reappeared with new life.
Like Jesus’ baptism, we should let our baptisms mark the start of our new lives. Our new ministry on earth. Each time we see another join our community or church through baptism, we should remember our baptism and our baptismal vows. Even in our time of separation and social distancing, we can still look back on our baptism or even look forward to the baptisms that are still to come.
O Lord, as we recall our baptismal vows, help us to live as ministers for the church. Help us go forth and do the work that Jesus began here on earth. Lead us to the new creations within our lives and to help all of creation around us. Amen.