PORTLAND---“Today marks the end of the Christmas season because today, Jesus begins his ministry.”
On Sunday morning, January 10, Bishop Robert Deeley celebrated Mass on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland.
Although he is without sin, Jesus puts himself in solidarity with the crowd and with sinful humanity as he enters the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by John as a representative of our collective guilt, beginning His public ministry and mission of redemption. The descent of the dove in the Gospel symbolizes the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus receives as the Christ, Greek for ‘the Anointed One.’”
“By accepting baptism from John, Jesus places himself beside us,” said the bishop during his homily on Sunday. “He takes on our humanity so that we can learn how to live it in the same hope and trust that he has in the Father. Jesus’ example is one of care, one of love, one of service. For those of us who are baptized, who live in a relationship with Jesus, we are called to live the same way.”
During today’s Gospel (Mk 1: 7-11), when Jesus comes out of the water, a voice came from the heavens approving his mission: ‘You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased.” Jesus was the servant the people had been waiting for.
“He is not a quick and powerful solution to immediate problems. In his life, he will show a way to be guided by the wisdom of God. He will be rejected but he will continue to trust in God’s will and he will accomplish what he sets out to do,” said Bishop Deeley. “He will overcome death, and will bring real hope to those who seek it. He will show in his own life the power of God’s love.”
The Gospel invites all to see Jesus as a way of life and a source of hope and meaning.
“Our connection with Jesus is, indeed, through baptism,” said the bishop. “For most of us, it was a sacrament we received when we were but a few weeks old, but it marked a profound change in our lives. It was our first step in living the mystery of Jesus’ life. In dying with him and rising to new life, not only at death, but each day we follow him. We, by reason of our Baptism, share in the hope Jesus brings and the mission he gives us.”
Bringing hope and love to others in need is a call that feels even more immediate and critically important following the tragic and horrific events that occurred during the domestic terrorist attack at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.
“The violent assault on the U.S. Capitol has frightened us and dismayed us,” the bishop told those in the pews and participating via live-stream on Sunday morning. “We do not expect this kind of thing to happen in America. And yet it has. As I watched the news of this event, my mind was filled with images of the people I have met over the years in my study and work abroad who have spoken of the way in which they look to the U.S.A. as the place where democracy works. For people in nations where they lack the right to determine their own government, ours would give them hope in its possibility. That hope was undermined by the events of Wednesday.”
The bishop added that he has certainly not lost hope but, instead, trusts that we, as people of good will, can find a way forward.
“I invite you to join me in prayer today for our nation. We pray especially for our leaders that they will find a way to appreciate each other as human persons, not as holders of political positions, and seek ways, through the conciliation and negotiation which is government, to listen to the voices of all the people and lead justly and fairly seeking the compromises needing to be made to bring us together as a people. I live in the hope that it is possible. As a follower of Jesus, I have no choice. At the heart of his message is an abiding hope and trust in God. We are reminded of that today as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.”