Being Faithful to Our Identity

icon-baptism of the lordOnce there was a very old man who used to go and pray every morning near the river. One morning, after finishing his prayers, the old man noticed a scorpion floating helplessly in the river’s strong current. The scorpion was soon caught in the long roots of a tree that branched out into the river. The scorpion struggled to free itself, but the more it struggled the more entangled it became in the tree’s roots.

Balancing himself on the roots and steadying himself with the overhanging branches, the old man reached out to try to rescue the drowning scorpion. But as soon as he touched it, the animal jerked and stung him wildly. The old man regained his balance and once again reached out to try to save the scorpion. But every time the old man came within reach, the scorpion stung him with his poisonous tail. Soon the man’s hands were covered with blood and his face etched with pain.

A passerby watched the old man’s efforts and struggle to save the deadly animal. “You stupid old man!” the passerby cried out. “What is wrong with you? Only a fool risks his life for the sake of an ugly, dangerous creature like that. Don’t you know that you may kill yourself for the sake of an ugly, useless animal?”

Slowly the old man turned his head and looked calmly at the stranger. “Sir, just because it is the nature of the scorpion to sting, why should I give up my nature to save?”

We cannot possibly comprehend our God loving us so much that God would “condescend” to become one of us in order to redeem us. This is the mystery that we have been celebrating throughout the Christmas Season – that comes to a conclusion with this Sunday’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

With his baptism at the Jordon by John, Christ begins his public ministry – the why of the Incarnation. Christ comes into our history to reveal to us the justice of God, to teach us the ways of peace, to open our eyes to the love of God. As Pope Francis reminded us at the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy – “Jesus is the face of the Father’s mercy.”

Saint Gregory of Nyssa said of the baptism of Jesus; “Jesus who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through Spirit and water. Jesus rises from the water; and the world rises with him.”

As we anticipate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let us recommit to rising again as we first rose from the waters of our own baptism to being anew the work of God’s new creation.

Perhaps this is a good time to be reminded that baptism is not just a simple ritual or milestone. Baptism is to take on the likeness of Jesus Christ and to allow it to become part of the very fabric of our life – to embrace an identity in which God and the things of God become part of our very nature. Sunday’s feast of Jesus’ baptism challenges us to renew our baptismal promises to proclaim, in every decision we make, in everything that we do, that we are disciples of Jesus.

Question – “In what ways am I being faithful to my identity as a disciple of Christ?”

January 6th, 2016 |