The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
December 10, 2023 – Second Sunday of Advent-Mark 1:1-8
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I have been present at the baptisms of all our children, and some of our grandchildren. They are always happy blessed events, mostly performed by priest friends of our family. I stand quietly close by thinking about what’s happening in our presence. Water is poured over the infant or child’s head (two of ours were baptized as youngsters as they were adopted years after their births). God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is there being sacramentally incorporated into the very being of these precious little persons. It’s all so apparently simple, yet in that moment, the heavens open and the power of God descends into their small bodies with the same divine power and energy that originally created the universe, 13.8 billion years ago.
Today’s astronomers search the heavens to find planets outside our solar system. They are called exoplanets and their known number is already in the thousands. Once pinpointed, these heavenly bodies are examined to determine whether they contain liquid water because as we currently understand life, water is a necessary component for its existence.
Clean water is also increasingly valued here in Earth as human life’s most important necessity. As war continues in the Gaza, the loss of potable water jeopardizes the very survival of its inhabitants. In other words, we humans have a new awareness of the value of water for life itself. The existence of water not only symbolizes the presence of life but also its survival.
John the Baptist is led into the desert by God where he experiences what it was like to live in a place, perhaps devoid of water. Then he leaves there to find the free-flowing waters of the Jordan River, a perfect place to invite listeners to change their ways. Do good and avoid evil, accept God and what God is about to bring into your lives. Someone is coming. much greater than I am. He will bring to you God’s Holy Spirit. As the gospel concludes this Sunday, we read, “he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
I was baptized in a small back storage room in my parents’ parish church when I was only a few days old. I was brought there likely on a Sunday afternoon by an aunt and a friend of my dad’s who were my godparents. My parents stayed home. Baptism was not treated as a very special event. Thanks to the teachings of Vatican II the sacrament of Baptism became more importantly understood in church life. Rightfully so, because the person I am today is directly connected with that moment. I am still trying to live up to its challenges.
David M. Thomas, PhD