Expectation or Exasperation?

Reflection for the Baptism of the Lord by FAN Board President, Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF

This reflection was originally posted in our January 7th newsletter

“The people were filled with expectation…” With this opening line from our gospel we may want to pause and ask ourselves, are we living today in expectation? What does expectation look like? What does our faith call forth from us? Are we truly immersed in Christ or are we simply holding membership in a religious faith tradition?

I remember, some years ago, seeing a co-worker’s screen saver which said, “Jesus is coming, look busy!” It seemed funny to me at the time but now it makes me wonder if our ‘busyness’, our constant frenetic activity is really dulling our senses, diminishing our attentiveness and weakening our capacity for compassion and empathy. Do we live with a sense of hope and expectation of living Christ more deeply? Or do we live with deepening exasperation from the pressures of life? Many experience frustration with government, church leaders, and others who seem to be more interested in their own personal gain and status rather than the needs of the people and the common good of all.

We know that it was not until 313 AD and Constantine’s Edict of Milan that Christianity was accepted and benevolently recognized within the Roman Empire. Prior to this dramatic Constantinian shift, Christians were persecuted. For the earlier persecuted Christian community adult baptism was the common practice because seeking baptism meant truly immersing one’s life into the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It meant putting one’s life on the line in the belief that the teachings of Jesus and the fulfillment of the Reign of God was at hand. This anticipation and expectation spurred on the believers to totally embrace Christ in their witness and in service of the gospel.

The readings for this Sunday are truly a testimony to the witness and service of John the Baptist and of Jesus. Their witness emboldened the early Christians to live their baptism with determination and expectation of making the Reign of God visible and vibrant even in the midst of suffering persecution and injustice at the hands of the Roman government. So, what about us today?

We, sharing in the same baptism, are called to embrace the prophetic mission and witness of the gospel. We are called to proclaim and to prepare the way so that all people might come to know the Christ, who is our Justice, in those who, in fleeing persecution in their home countries, seek refuge for themselves and their children and are only greeted with suspicion, detainment and deportation. We are called to work for justice and healing in our church and our world where lives and families have suffered the pain and agony of abuse, racism, hatred, and violence.

As we gather to celebrate this feast, let us recall our own baptism, whether we were infants, young children or adults. The baptism we received is a dying to self and a rising in Christ. Our baptism calls us to be immersed in Christ and made one with all our sisters and brothers in the Body of Christ.

May our baptism reflect the expectation and anticipation that drives out the darkness of anxiety, fear and hatred. Let us immerse ourselves in the Spirit and live our baptismal call and work to establish justice, peace and goodness for all people!

Sr. Margaret Magee, OSF
FAN President

Published in: on January 8, 2019 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

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