A Reflection on the Public Beginning of the Life of Jesus
Water is a very important element in our lives it makes up 70% of our brain and 80% of our blood. We can go almost a month without food but less than a week without water. The same amount of water that was available for drinking a million years ago is the same amount available today. But NOW less than 1 % of fresh water is available for drinking - out of 3% that is mostly ice.
Water connects us to the other elements air, earth and fire as well as all human beings and other creatures who share this earth with us. We often forget that water, along with all else GOD created and is sacred, so it is our responsibility to care for it and treat it with honour. Living in the developing world, where women walked for miles to carry, often unclean water, on their heads for family use, challenged me NEVER to leave taps running and to use the minimum for a shower.
Being such a precious gift, it is no surprise that Jesus chose to be Baptized in the River Jordan by John giving us an example that water is cleansing, life giving and sacred. Water when blessed keeps danger away because the prayer that is said over it is very powerful…
‘Wherever this water is sprinkled may all that is evil be driven away’
The Baptism of Jesus was the first step in the public beginning of the life of Jesus. On reflecting on this event, one is moved to be amazed at the humility of Jesus, the Son of God without sin, giving us an example as to what it means to begin the Mission for which He was sent by the Father.
We rarely think of Jesus as a beginner, just as we never think of Jesus needing help, but His Baptism celebrates these two things... the beginning of His Ministry with help through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Up to this point Jesus was known as the son of the carpenter, who lived in the small town of Nazareth. After His Baptism with John, He became known as the wandering preacher with a unique and prophetic mission. John was a very important person in the life of Jesus who according to Peter, Jesus said of him….
‘Of all the children born of women none is greater than John’
Jesus set out on a difficult road which eventually led to an appointment with a cruel death. Along that road He fulfilled an amazing ministry of preaching, healing the sick and reaching out in compassion to people in trouble without judgement.
As we celebrate the public beginning in the life of Jesus, we look for a moment at the many beginnings in our own lives. We may have mixed feelings when we look at some of them and for sure there may not be voices from heaven and doves flying around! But as Gospel people, we make our own beginnings which are new every day so let us take courage and face the unmarked road. God is always at our side, and we have the example of our ancestors, who walked in faith meeting all the challenges on the way with complete confidence in the providence of God.
I remember a challenging remark from my mother as she lay dying of cancer… ‘why do you bother your head about small things don’t you know god always provides?’
Having lived in the developing world for over ten years I can affirm that God always provides. But those stories are for another time! During the drought of two years having had to wait almost all day for the lorry to come with far from clean water so we could buy some, I have a huge respect for this great gift and maybe it is something we can do together in preparation for the SYNOD.
Sr Assumpta Walsh 22.1.22