January 13, 2013
BAPTISM OF THE LORD (C)
The people were filled with expectation…. Luke 3: 15
There is a strong tendency among us humans to believe that there is no event that cannot be controlled, no problem that cannot be fixed ultimately, by the expansion of knowledge & technology. It is ironic that in one of the most destructive subcultures of our time, the word for the chemical dose that alters the brain is called a “fix.”
Anyone relying on chemicals (including alcohol) to “fix” their problems sooner or later realizes that nothing is getting fixed at all. Indeed, matters only get worse. There are some problems in life for which there is no quick fix. Such life experiences can be dealt with only in the context of a strong hope in God.
We are all imperfect creatures, flawed people standing in need of God’s mercy. God invites us to make our journey with Him, & to believe & hope that His mercy is indeed available to us. In struggling with our impediments, we discover hidden sources of strength that make us more human & effective. In struggling with & accepting our imperfections, we discover a sense of oneness in the Christian family that empowers & inspires & uplifts.
In today’s Gospel reading, John the Baptist is preaching to a people of hope. They wondered if God, in His mercy, had given them the promised messiah in the person of John. But John responds to this hope by saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit & Fire” (Luke 3: 16). Jesus did come, & he lit their fire.
The flaming torch of hope which he lit will never be extinguished, because in Him, God’s victory over death, darkness & despair is total. In Jesus we need look no further for God’s kingdom. It is coming toward us. In Him, God invites us to move closer, & Jesus is our hope that there is a future for all of us because God is in our future.
During the seven years from 1861 – 1868, the student body & faculty of William & Mary College in Virginia had all gone home or to war. The school was closed & only one man remained: the college president. Each day he did a very curious thing. He walked from his office to the chapel & rang the bell. There was no one there to hear it. Why did he ring it? It was a defiant act of hope that the silence of that campus was not the final word.
Hope comes alive in the silence of God. In our loneliness before a closed heaven, in our seeming abandonment, God is silent & it is we who speak. We do not speak to decorate the silence, but to express the hope that God’s silence is neither basic nor final.
Hope is a miracle of everyday life. The Church & the world both need people of hope. William Jennings Bryan expressed his feelings about everyday miracles in these words:
“Some (religious) skeptics say, ‘Oh, the miracles. I can’t accept miracles.’ One may drop a brown seed in the black soil & up comes a green shoot. You let it grow & by & by you pull up a root & you find it red. You cut the root & you find it has a white heart. Can anyone tell how this comes about – how brown cast into black results in green & then red & white? Yet you eat your radish without troubling your mind over miracles. Men are not distressed by miracles in the dining room; they reserve them all for religion!”
Every day is a miracle – a miracle of hope that sustains our life. Our Lord Himself embodies this most basic of miracles! AMEN!