It is up to you and me to Finish the Poem of the Birth of Jesus.

Baptismal FontIn the book, The Ageless Spirit, written by Philip Berman and Connie Goldman, a friend of the late Carl Sandburg remembers a time when the great poet stayed at his home. As the two were sitting at breakfast, Sandburg was fishing in his pocket for something. The friend noticed that he kept pulling out scraps of paper with words scribbled on them. Some of the notes were quite old.

“What are those?” the friend asked.

“Oh, they’re scraps of poems that I’ve been carrying around,” Sandburg responded.

The friend read some of them. They were beautiful little gems, each three, four, five line or so. “Carl, have these been published?” the friend asked.

“No,” the poet replied.

“But they are wonderful. Why haven’t they been published?”

 The poet simply said, “Because I’m not through with them.”

Although, according to the Church calendar, the Christmas Season will officially close this coming Sunday, January 12, as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are by no means finished with Christmas. There is much to be done to complete the great “poem” of Christ’s birth. The great music and festivities and stories of the Christmas Season are but scraps of a greater story we have yet to complete.

The good news spoken to by the angels to the shepherds continues to unfold. The wondrous part of the Christ story is yet to be revealed. So, who must proclaim the message today? The same Spirit that “anoints” Jesus in the Jordon for his mission calls you and me to complete the work of Christmas. To seek out the lost, to heal the sick and hurting, to feed the hungry, to liberate those who are imprisoned by a variety of demons, to rebuild families and nations, to bring peace to the people and places where our lives take us.

As we anticipate the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, let us remember, as Pope Francis reminds us over and over, that our baptism is in a sense “our identity card as a Christian, our birth certificate, and the act of our birth into the Church.” The word “baptism” literally means “immersion”, and through this Sacrament we are filled with the light of Christ. That is why in the ceremony of Baptism the parents are given a lit candle, to signify this illumination – that we are illuminated from within with the light of Jesus. So, in virtue of this gift all of the baptized are called to become themselves “light” – the light of faith that we have received, the very light of Jesus – for our brothers and sisters, especially for those who feel that they are immersed in darkness and see no glimmer of light on the horizon of their lives.

Perhaps this week we need to we ask, is Baptism for me, a fact of the past, relegated to simply a date, a date which Pope Francis says we should know by heart? Or, is it a living reality, that pertains to my present, to my every moment, a gift that allows me to be a light for all people?

 Question – Have I taken the time to discover the date of my baptism as Pope Francis has asked all Christians to do? How am I going to be “light” for those whom I encounter who need the light of Jesus in their lives?

January 8th, 2014 |