|Flint Hills in Kansas from passing car|
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galileeand was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn openand the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens,"You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." Mark 1:9-11Mark's gospel is the earliest and shortest of the four accounts of the life of Jesus the Christ. The author was clearly focused on getting the essentials down in writing for his community because time was of the essence. It was essential to get the word out to as many people as possible because the return of the Lord and the end of the age was eminent. That belief turned out not to be literally accurate but it did result in a gospel that focuses on the core truths about Jesus and the faith required for eternal life.
I have often meditated on these lines and tried to imagine what it must have been like for Jesus who was both fully human and fully divine. After some thirty years of life, he was drawn to John, his cousin, for baptism. He must have had some inkling about the relationship he had with the Divine One whom he would call his Abba, his father. Whether he had full comprehension of his divine nature is difficult, probably impossible to tell, but he must have felt something stirring in him that would lead him from his life as a builder toward the desert and this man, John.
I imagine that he entered the Jordan to be baptized by John and that when he came up out of the water everything was somehow changed. The world looked different and his place in the world had changed in some perceptible yet not fully understood way. I think about the first time I saw the world through glasses. I was 12 or so and had been experiencing bad eyesight for some time but was not aware that there was anything wrong. I just kept living day by day with a difficulty of seeing distant objects that I thought was perfectly normal. When I finally went for an eye exam, my eye sight was 20/400.
I met my Daddy downtown after his work to receive my glasses. It was at an topical company that was in a tall building in downtown Kansas City on Grand Avenue. I wore the glasses in the offices and down the elevator. It was went I stepped outside into the late afternoon sunshine that I was struck speechless. Everything looked alive and dazzling. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Cars, people, streetcars, buildings all looked shimmering in that bright sunshine. I could see everything with sharp definition and brilliant colors. All this had been there all the time, I just couldn't see it. I walked, ran, studied, played is a world that was a faded version of the true reality. Once I saw it, everything changed.
I imagine that Jesus had these same feelings after his baptism. Nothing had changed and yet everything had changed. After his baptism, he went into the desert for forty days in preparation for the beginning of his ministry of announcing the Good News. As 1 John has it in today's first reading:
And this is the testimony:God gave us eternal life,and this life is in his Son. Whoever possesses the Son has life;whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life. 1 John 5:11-12