Is This Ordinary?

From the Pastoral Team

From Our Deacon

This time that we begin in our liturgical calendar is called “Ordinary Time,” but there is nothing ordinary about it! Rather, we should call it “extraordinary time,” since after having lived and experienced all the grace and gifts that we receive from our God, the Emmanuel, who can live in an ordinary way?

The celebration of the baptism of Jesus opens the pattern of this “extraordinary” time while continuing to connect with the time of Advent and Christmas. In his baptism, Jesus accepts his mission that comes from the Father, and also the suffering that will be part of this mission.

(En Español)

Starting this Sunday, Jesus shows us how he will carry out his mission and suffering. The first reading is from the 2nd canticle of the Servant of Yahweh. In this chapter, the figure of the Servant describes more deeply the prophetic dimension of this character. Here, we discover more about the redemptive value of suffering, although not in today’s text. The role of the Servant is to gather, pacify, comfort… Jacob and Israel. Humanity has had a need for these values. And today, more than ever, we need someone like the Servant to bring that light to this divided, warring, hungry and disoriented world.

The Gospel of John gives voice to some statements of John the Baptist that attract attention: “the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” We must not ignore what it says “lamb of God” (amnos tou theou). This precursor figure is already here pointing to Easter, to the Paschal lamb that was sacrificed in the temple to commemorate the liberation from Egypt. One lamb in front of the power of the world is too much, but that is the struggle that Johannine theology has to show: life-death, love-hate, and light-darkness are the contrasts with which the mission of Jesus is expressed.

In this passage it is evident that John the Baptist used the means of water baptism for conversion; but Jesus brings the new, radical baptism in the Spirit, for the same conversion, and for life. Baptism using water is something ritual and external; baptism of the Spirit is interior and profound: without the Spirit, everything can remain stagnant, even the purest religion. This is what this passage from our evangelist, John, wants to underline. And the fact that he presents it, at first, as a “lamb” indicates that his strength will be in the weakness and even in the meekness of a lamb (a biblical sign of sweetness) ready to be “slain”. Ultimately, the absolute sin of the world will be defeated by the power of the Spirit that Jesus brings.

Br. Salvador Mejía, OFM

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