Yearning for Christ
January 6, 2017 (readings)
Father Jason Smith, LC
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and 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.”
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for the wonderful gift of my baptism. By it you have invited me to follow you closely. You have called me to be part of your Church. You have washed my soul clean. You have called me to bring others closer to you. I hope to always be filled with gratitude for this undeserved gift. In baptism you also gave me the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. I wish to believe in you more, to hope in your mercy and love you every day of my life so that we may spend eternity together.
Petition: Jesus, grant me a profound appreciation for my baptism.
1. John’s Yearning for Christ: Saint John the Baptist was a man with a mission. Every aspect of his life was given to preparing the way of the Lord. Every fiber of his being yearned to see that day arrive. Be it by penance, preaching, or repentance, he did everything he could to prepare others for the Messiah’s coming. Because his heart yearned for Christ, it made his every action glow with authenticity. What joy must have filled him when, as Saint Mark writes, “It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.” The day he longed for had finally arrived! How good it is to long for what we should long for and then to achieve it! Are all of my aspirations truly Christian?
2. Our Yearning for Christ: Like John, we also yearn for Christ’s coming into our lives. But we need not look far off. By our baptism, Christ has already taken our hand; we already belong to him! Our response to this unmerited gift is our baptismal commitments, namely to preach the Gospel and to strive for holiness. In this way, we renounce sin and profess to live out our faith in the Triune God. Baptism gives the certainty for which each of us yearns: Christ is here, he has come into my life, he has seized my soul, and will remain with me unless I deliberately turn away from him by grave sin. Even then, he awaits and pursues me to restore me to his intimate friendship. Do I appreciate the gift of my baptism? Do I actively work to bring that seed to fruition in my life?
3. Our Neighbor’s Yearning for Christ: When we live out our baptismal commitments the world becomes transformed. Ideologies of violence, tendencies towards corruption, desires for power and possessions are all steadily removed from our hearts. Instead our eyes are opened to the needs of others. They too yearn for Christ, just as those who gathered alongside the Jordan to hear Saint John preach. The greatest gift we can give them is, like the Baptist, to point them to the Lamb of God — it is Christ alone who can satisfy the thirst of every human heart! Am I convinced that Our Lord wishes to use me as an instrument of his grace? I do not need to have outstanding qualities to help others. I just need the desire and the readiness to point out the way of happiness and peace to others.
Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, I want to take a moment to thank you for your wonderful gift of baptism, the moment when you opened for me the doors to heaven, the moment from which I can be called one of your followers. Through my baptism I can be truly called a Christian! Help me to be worthy of this calling. Strengthen me today with your grace and presence. Guide me along the path of life. Help me to be your light in the world.
Resolution: I will be mindful of the great gift of my baptism today by periodically making the Sign of the Cross.
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