The lofty prophecy of Isaiah not only foreshadows the coming Messiah but also provides us with details of who we are called to be. Can we “open the eyes of the blind”? Jesus explains later that we can if we have faith the size of a mustard seed.
Faith is a gift given to each of us in baptism but its growth depends on whether or not it is nurtured. The Holy Spirit, who comes upon each of us at our baptism, furnishes a supernatural birth which allows us to live as God lives. We have the God-given potential to do divine things like love and forgive. Our invitation to participate in the divine is before us very clearly as we ponder the Baptism of Our Lord. God became man so that we might have eternal life. Jesus goes down into the waters of the Jordan not to wash away his sins but to show us that he is identifying himself with us in our humanity. He would know pain, suffering and death, just as we will all experience them in various ways in our lives. His presence in the Jordan purified those waters; the Jordan had the sins of so many in it, and Our Savior waded in its waters as well. All the waters of baptism after that welcome and purify the brothers and sisters of Christ to reveal the divine life present in them. Jesus is one with us, as he received his commission and was sent forth by the Father, so we too know the Father’s love as we hear these words spoken to us–“You are my beloved son, with you I am well pleased.”
Whether or not these words resonate within our own hearts will depend upon our openness to God’s will. We are not baptized for only ourselves, but also for others. As Jesus had a mission, so we also have a vocation to others. What is one’s vocation? This is something we are asked to ponder during National Vocation Awareness Week in this Year of Faith. The understanding of vocation is so important because we can be tricked into believing that having a “private” faith is all we need. This is not true, though a private faith is good for building up and strengthening a vocation. Jesus’ own life is a great example. He spent 30 years preparing for his public ministry. We often ignore the importance of these years because the Church calendar takes us from the Magi’s gifts to Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan in the span of a week. However, those years were critical to prepare Him for his public ministry of leading others to God.
Family played a crucial role in Jesus’ understanding of His vocation. Mary and Joseph would have kept him faithful to his prayers. They would have watched to make sure he did not get hurt by any of Joseph’s carpentry tools. They still probably would have asked questions like, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” and “How will you do that?” They knew who he was, but they did not know how God’s plan would be worked out. Most likely, they didn’t imagine that a cross on Calvary was in his future. Mary and Joseph provide the model for parents to follow in the faith formation of their children.
May each of us respond in ways pleasing to the Father, both in our own vocations and in assisting others to live theirs.