After January 13, 2013, the feast of the Baptism of Jesus, the church enters a short period called Ordinary Time. The manger is packed up, the Christmas trees, wreaths, and Christmas cards move out to be recycled. All the festive decorations this year cheered our spirits, restrained from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and reeling from the massacre of the children and their teachers and administrators at Newtown, Connecticut. Now we return to the ordinary, the everyday.
The story of Jesus stepping into the water with others devoted to John, who was baptizing those repenting for their sins, is an amazing revelation. John drew crowds to watch his ritual and to hear his calls for repentance. And his cousin, Jesus, steps forward along with the other men who heard and heeded John.
Amazing that Jesus placed himself alongside all the others: he made himself “one of us.” Jesus the sinless embraced the ritual of repentance for sin, for all his brothers and sisters. He was one with the fishermen, the farmers, the “ordinary people,” seeking forgiveness and favor with God. And surely, God looked with favor on all of them, fervent men from all walks of life. These were the people Jesus would draw to himself as prophet, revealing the God whom he called Father, as our Father, as well.
The story tells us that the voice of the Father spoke that Jesus was the beloved son in whom God is well pleased. The Spirit hovered over this figure as a constant presence in his goings and comings, the very breath of life.
And after that ritual and great manifestation of God, Jesus, identified as both one of us and beloved of God, went on to the tasks of changing human hearts in ordinary time.