The Baptism of the Lord

8 January 2012


A chairde arís,

Sé Marc soiscéalaí na bliana seo. During the coming year our principal Sunday scriptural guide to the story of Jesus will be the evangelist Mark. He was the first of the Christian community to put into writing his version of the story. The early community of believers did not at first feel the need to commit the story to writing. Bhí na haspail in a measc go fóill. The apostles and other disciples, still with them, were eyewitnesses of what happened and had heard what Jesus taught. As time went by, they came to realise that, for the sake of accuracy and integrity, it would be important to have a reliable written record of it all. Ba é Marc an chéad duinne a rinne sin.

When Matthew and Luke later came to write their Gospels, thosnaigh said le scéalta na breithe. They began with accounts and stories of the birth of Jesus. Tá aithne againn go léir ar na scéalta seo. Luke has choirs of angels announcing the birth, and Matthew tells of wise men who come from the East guided by a star. In contrast, Luke chooses to begin the story with the Baptism of Jesus. He begins with the public life of Jesus, the beginning of his unique mission to mankind.

Bhí fear darbh ainm John the Baptist ag obair go dian cheana. Mark tells us that all the country of Judea and all the people of Jerusalem were flocking to hear a prophet called John the Baptist preaching and baptising in the Jordan those who were convinced of what he said. He told the people that he was preparing the way for a greater one coming after him. Bhí aistir cuíosach fada – b’fhéider trí lá – le deánamh ag Íosa, mar as fada ó Galilee a raibh John the Baptist ag déanamh baiste taobh thall den Jordáin.

His baptism by John marks a significant milestone in the life and work of Jesus. Tá deireadh leis na hullmhúchaín; ní feitheamh ach obair dian atá roimhe anois. The Spirit of God is with him. He is confirmed as Son of God, whose favour rests on him. Beidh Dia ag obair i mease mhuinter an domhain ar shlí nua nach raibh ann cheanna. What Jesus does will be accomplished by the power of God’s Spirit in him. It will be the beginning of a new dispensation. Tús nua a bheidh ann.

Níl cuimhne ró-chruinn ag furmhór na ndaoine ar ócáid a mbaiste. Most of us were carried to the font as infants in the arms of parents and godparents. Tugadh ainm dúinn agur labhair daoine eile ar ár son. Our future was promised to God. We spend our lives catching up, struggling to make good the promises made on our behalf. What happened at our christening needs to be validated by our personal decisions. Ní hé go ndéanaimid ár mbaiste a thréigint ach gach lá caithimid é a chur i bhfeidhm.

Ní hé gurb ar ócáid ár mbaiste an taon uair a bhíonn an Spiorad ag obair ionainn. There are times of grace in all our lives when God enlivens us in special ways for different tasks. The Spirit does not retire at our baptism. All the Sacraments are moments of contact with God’s Spirit. Deireann Dia féin gur chóir dúinn guí go dtugtar cabhair dúinn ón Spiorad nuair a bhíonn aon rud tábhactach le cur i bhfeidhm againn i rith ár saoil. The Spirit of God is the power behind new beginnings. If we are willing to allow it, the Spirit is there to guide and support us.

Many of us have known moments that have turned out to be turning points in our lives. This happened, for instance, to Matt Talbot. He was drinking himself to death. Lá amháin bhí sé ina sheasamh taobh amuigh de teach tabhairne. Bhí sé ag feitheamh agus ag súil go mbeadh duine éigean a bheadh caion go leor sa tslí go gceannódh sé deoch dó. People he considered to be his friends passed him by. All of a sudden the scales fell from his eyes. Bhí sé soiléar dó go raibh sé ag déanamh scrios dá shaol féin. He made a decision there and then to stop drinking and to ask God’s help to enable him to succeed. D’eírigh leis, le cúnamh ón Spiorad.

At Baptism, we were pointed in a specific direction. God wants us to have life, life in abundance (mar a chímid sa chéad léacht). In Baptism, we share in the life of God and we become disciples of Jesus. We are called to resist evil and to love one another (mar a deireann an dara léacht). The ultimate question and challenge for the Christian is : Am I moving in the direction in which I was pointed at Baptism? Sé slí ár dTarna, slí na beatha.

+Liam S. MacDaid

8 Eanair 2012

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