Bread in the Wilderness

Father Carl Diederichs

All Saints Catholic Church

On Sunday January 11 we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus. The readings are: Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-7, Acts 10: 34-38 and Mark 1: 7-11.

The first reading has God speaking to the Jewish nation. Israel is God’s servant and their mandate is to bring justice to the whole world. They are the People of God and they exist for the whole world.

It is easy to see how we can apply those words to Jesus; He is the chosen one of God. He will bring forth justice to the nations. He has been called for the victory of justice, a light to the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement and to bring light to all who are living in darkness. And by extension, these words apply to us who share in the baptism of Jesus and become those “People of God” who also have the mandate to bring justice, healing, light to the whole world.

The second reading from Acts has Peter saying to those gathered in the house of Cornelius, that God shows no partiality and that every nation that acts uprightly is acceptable to God. Yes it begins with Israel but doesn’t stay there. It includes gentiles as well. That means all of us.

The Gospel reading narrates how Jesus was himself baptized by John. But Jesus’ baptism would be in the Holy Spirit, according to John. And that is the baptism we all share in, water and the Holy Spirit. Therefore what our heavenly Father said about Jesus can also be said about us: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Will we constantly deepen our understanding of the power of our baptism or not? So often, I think, folks are baptized more for the social ramifications; it is the thing to do if you are Christian. The radical change that takes place in the baptized is often lost. I know from my own experience that it is not easy to live the baptism we received. It is much easier to claim a love for Jesus, to sing His praises, to testify to our being “born again” than to actually show our love of Jesus by loving our neighbor.

We are called to bring justice upon the earth. We are called to be a light to the nations. We are called to open the eyes of the blind, to set prisoners free. We are called to bring light where there is darkness.

During our liturgy on this Feast we ask God to nourish us at the Welcome Table so that we will have the grace to truly listen to Jesus and be children of God in name and in truth. Empowered by Word and Sacrament we can change our world.