Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching. (Is 42:1-4)
The Baptism of the Lord, as with many other moments of Jesus’ birth and life, “ushered in” a totally different understanding of God and God’s Kingdom coming into the world.
Before Jesus, many people waited expectantly for a Messiah to come. However, their idea of a Messiah was that of a warrior-king who would help them to defeat their many enemies and establish the Lord’s people as a world power for all generations.
Perhaps it was because they had spent so many generations wandering in the desert. Maybe it was because they had been defeated by enemy upon enemy. It might have been because they had no real ruler of their own. Whatever the case, their Messiah would be one who would bring the people together and establish they as a force to be dealt with.
That was not the way of God.
Jesus was not born in powerful circumstances. He was not born in a palace among the elite. He was born in a stable filled with animals. The people who came to look upon Him were not wealthy, they were poor shepherds. His birth did not usher in a new world order. His birth brought about death as King Herod slew many children in hope that Jesus would be one of the victims.
As Jesus was ready to come into His own as a man, He did not come to claim any power. He presented Himself, in all humility, to John the Baptist to be baptized in the Jordan river. John did not want to baptize his cousin. John recognized who Jesus was. But Jesus wanted to fulfill His Father’s plan and insisted upon baptism.
We are not supposed to crave power, wealth, or prestige. Instead, we are supposed to want to serve in all humility all the people who come into our lives. God’s Kingdom is a Kingdom of love and peace, not of iron rule and domination.
As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today, let us ask God to give us the grace that we need to live out our own baptismal promises.
FAITH ACTION: Reject Satan, all his works and all his empty promises today. Believe in the Lord and proclaim His Kingdom by word and deed.