U.S. Catholic Sunday Reflections

A reflection for the Baptism of the Lord

Rhonda Miska reflects on the readings for January 10, 2021.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year B)

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalms 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
1 John 5:1-9
Mark 1:7-11

Reflection: Dare to dream big

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. The Christmas season has ended. It is a transition, a turning point in the church year. We have set aside for another year the Christmas carols where we sing of the “holy infant, so tender and mild.” We have put away nativity sets in our homes and churches.

Now we see Jesus as an adult beginning his public ministry, baptized by his cousin John, anointed by the Holy Spirit, commissioned to bring forth justice to the nations. This is the beginning of a new season. This is a new moment is salvation history. Jesus begins his public life in proclaiming God’s reign, announcing to all that God is doing something new.

Mirroring the liturgical calendar, this moment is a transition for us, too. Since March of last year, our individual and collective lives have shifted. The pandemic crisis brought a reordering of our daily rhythms. It made even more apparent how fragile and interconnected we are and the disparities in our society which make some more vulnerable to the virus than others.

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Now, the long-awaited vaccine is being distributed. Though there are still dark days ahead and it will take more time before precautions like masks, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings can safely be put aside, that change is coming. We are shifting.

In reflecting on the pandemic, Pope Francis recently wrote:

This is a moment to dream big, to rethink our priorities—what we value, what we want, what we seek—and to commit to act in our daily life on what we have dreamed of. God asks us to dare to create something new. We cannot return to the false securities of the political and economic systems we had before the crisis. We need economies that give to all access to the fruits of creation, to the basic needs of life: to land, lodging and labor. We need a politics that can integrate and dialogue with the poor, the excluded and the vulnerable, that gives people a say in the decisions that affect their lives. We need to slow down, take stock and design better ways of living together on this earth.

Dream big.

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Dare to create something new.

The gift of so much disruption, of lives being turned upside down, is that it can shake us out of complacency, out of long-held, tired assumptions. Out of the crisis of pandemic comes not just grief, but also possibility. Not just trauma, but also clarity about what is really important.

On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we hear the prophet Isaiah’s words of God’s servant. We celebrate how Jesus uniquely fulfilled those words, and we claim those words as true for all the baptized, too. We, too, are called for the victory of justice. We, too, are called to open the eyes of the blind, to bring prisoners out of confinement. We, too, are called to know ourselves as beloved, to know ourselves as sent out in mission to proclaim good news.

We hear the assurance from First John that we, too, in our shared faith in Christ, are begotten of God. And that this faith in Christ makes us victorious. He writes that this faith is world-conquering . . . world conquering! These promises challenge us not to play small but to imagine expansively, to vision with holy boldness.

As we begin to transition out of pandemic life, rooted in belovedness and victorious faith, can we dare to allow God to dream within us, to create something new—in ourselves, our homes, our churches, our nation, our world?

Today, let us renew the promises of our baptism. At this turning point, in this new season, let us dare to dream big, dare to create something new.


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About the author

Rhonda Miska

Rhonda Miska is a writer, spiritual director, and lay minister currently based in Dubuque, Iowa. Read more of her work at rhondamiska.com.

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