Date: January 9, 2021
By: Ana Maria T.
In the Catholic Church’s liturgical life, we have just finished celebrating the mysteries of Christmas. What a beautiful gift it is that Mother Church invites us year after year to unite our lives more closely to the mysteries of Jesus Christ’s earthly life, beginning with His Incarnation at Christmas and ending with His Resurrection at Easter. As we enter into Christ’s mysteries, we see that this invitation to union is not simply to be distant spectators of Jesus’ life, but to participate and thus be in communion with Him, God made man. Christ’s mysteries reveal to us God’s desire for this union to culminate in our sharing in His Divine life in heaven.
We are beginning 2021 in the midst of a global pandemic. For many of us, 2020 was a difficult and trying year. I am sure many of us began 2020 with different plans and dreams, resolutions and goals. We never could have expected that the year was going to take such a sharp turn with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But alas it did. We are beginning 2021 still in the midst of what may by now seem and feel like an unending reality.
But take courage God’s beloved, He is with us! As we begin this new year, let us hold fast to that truth. The truth that God Himself, made manifest to us through His Son Jesus Christ, whose birth we have just celebrated, is with each and every one of us. Him, who has taken all our sins and the sins of the world upon Himself, and who is inviting us to share in His eternal life, is with us. He walks with you and with me, identifying Himself with us and inviting us to a communion where He “enables us to live in Him all that He Himself lived, and He lives it in us" (CCC 521).
And this brings us to the celebration of the feast of the Baptism of Jesus. For as Pope Benedict XVI put it, "God’s desire to identify Himself with us in our sinfulness so that there we can receive our identification with Him”, is precisely what the mystery of this feast shows us. In accepting to be baptized, Jesus, though sinless, “loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon His shoulders, [and] bore it down into the depths of the Jordan”. At His baptism, Jesus accepted to take the place of us sinners, just as He would later do on the Cross. How beautiful it is that “the point where He anticipates death [His baptism] has now become the point where we anticipate rising again with Him"? For that is what our own baptism is; it is our plunging into Christ’s death where all our sins are buried, and our rising again with Him as beloved sons and daughters of God.
How then, can we ever doubt that He is with us? When Jesus began His public ministry at the moment of His baptism, He said ‘yes’ to suffering-with us; to being there with and for us, joys and pains. As baptized Christians, we are “sacramentally assimilated to Jesus” (CCC537), and so truly united with Him. Our baptism marks the beginning of this union, which is to find its completion one day with Him in heaven. Let this be the foundation upon which you begin this new year. Know that our God is not indifferent to your joys and sufferings. He is not unmoved by what you lived this past year, and neither is He uninterested in your hopes and dreams for this new year. He loves and sees you. He is the faithful Lover who will never leave you. Through your baptism you have been united with Him, whom at His own baptism desired to unite Himself to you.