Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 – Psalm 29 – Acts 10:34-38 – Matthew 3: 13-17
“Here is my servant whom I uphold …upon whom I have put my spirit;” (Isaiah 42:1ff)
As I read today’s first scripture reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah I thought that I could just tell all the readers of my reflections to go back and read it again. Slowly, in order to see that it’s a clear outline; a kind of “game plan” of the ministry of Jesus. It’s another variation of the Beatitudes and one more reminder of what all of us should be doing in our Christian walk.
If we go back just a little bit, and walk through our recently celebrated feasts we should be able to pick up some interesting facts. In His public ministry Jesus will show a preference for the poor and downtrodden. And if he’s challenged he can truthfully say, “Been there! Done that!” He was born in a stable. “No room in the inn.” His first visitors were shepherds who didn’t have a high standing in their society. In today’s jargon they might be considered “street people.”
In today’s Holy Gospel we hear of Jesus being baptized by John. The sky opens up; the Dove of the Holy Spirit appears; and there is a great “theophany” – the very voice of God: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)
Yet we know that Jesus didn’t let his notoriety go to his head and “he did not cling to his divinity but emptied himself becoming the servant of all.” (Philippians 2:6-7) Tomorrow’s Holy Gospel has Jesus calling his first followers: fishermen! Most of us, if we had had an experience like Jesus’ baptism would have taken some well deserved glory time and most probably would have gone to the local church “higher-ups” to find “worthy followers” for our leadership team.
With these few thoughts in mind we should easily see where our Holy Father, Pope Francis is trying to take the Church. In these days between the Christmas celebration and the beginning of Lent pay close attention to the Holy Scripture readings that are given to us and let us try to put ourselves into the picture that is presented. I’m not saying that this is an easy task. Even the first disciples had some misgivings. Remember how they wanted to call down fire from heaven on the people who weren’t following the way they were? (Luke 9:54)
Take a moment to think about the miracles that Jesus did in his brief time of ministry. So much of what He did focused on outsiders in one form or another. Not only did he consort with people who were outside the strict parameters of the Jewish society He sought them out and brought them in. In one way or another following Jesus will put us at odds with whatever society we find ourselves living in. It happened during His lifetime and it’s still going on. But we have his promise that, “I am with you always until the end of time.” (Matthew 28:20) Amen!