Since last week’s celebration of the feast of the baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, I have been allowing myself to listen attentively to the objections of Saint John the Baptist to Jesus’ Baptism. In that dialogue, he was pointing to the fact that Jesus is without sin and therefore has no need of repentance, as well as strongly emphasizing the superiority of Jesus. “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” I wondered on all of these while sharing some reflections at the Sunday liturgy. I pointed out that the explanation to this lies on the fact that Jesus who is the author of our faith as the letter to the Hebrews pointed out, came to the Jordan in solidarity with all of us fallen humanity (Luke 3:21), took on his mission, and doing nothing out of vain glory or looking out for his own interests (Philippians 2:3-4), emptied himself, took the form of a slave, came in human likeness with all of humanity’s burdens (Philippians 2:7), in order to fulfill the righteousness (Matthew 3:14) of faithfulness to the covenant of God with all men. He stepped into humanity’s past to shine his glory, while anticipating what is in stock for humanity in the future (salvation).
I kept these thoughts close to my heart while reflecting on the readings for this weekend’s liturgy on call of the boy Samuel and the call of the early disciples. I thought about the roles of the Priest Eli in the first reading and Saint John the Baptist in the gospel. Like they did and just like our Lord directed us on how-to live-in faithfulness the covenant, we are called, at every time period of our lives and no matter whatever is going on, to be a light in this our often very darkened world, and to replicate what they did, by pointing humanity to God our creator. We will not succeed if all we think about for instance, is how to advance our individualism, take offence and dub everything an inconvenience and an infringement to our freedom.
We can agree that it is now almost always the case with our times, that we are so strong about what we think, easily ticked off about certain things and everything in fact, that we have allowed the works of the flesh – hatred, rivalry, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions take over and becloud acts of charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control which belongs to the spirit. Sometimes rather than pointing to God’s direction, we arrogantly point to ourselves and erroneously claim to know the mind of God.
Fr. Louis Chijioke