The Christmas—Epiphany Mystery

Reflection Week of January 10

"Coming out of the water, he saw the sky rent in two and the spirit descending him like a dove. Then a voice came from the heavens: "You are my beloved son. On you my favor rests."    Mk 1:9-11

Jesus' baptism by John represents the manifestation of Jesus' divinity to the Jews, the moment when Jesus entered fully into his mission for the salvation of the human family. His baptism in the Jordan is a preview of the graces of Easter and Pentecost, in which we celebrate the mysteries of divine life and love. Jesus' descent into the waters of the Jordan anticipates his descent into the sufferings of his passion and death; his emergence from the Jordan symbolizes his resurrection; and the dove's descent prefigures the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

All water has been sanctified by its contact with the body of Jesus in the Jordan. Moreover, every drop of water in the universe, in virtue of the baptism of Jesus, has become a vehicle of grace. Every kind of affliction, symbolized by the waters of the Jordan, has become a vehicle of grace. Even suffering that is the direct consequence of sin has become an inexhaustible source of grace. This does not mean that suffering is an end in itself, but that it has to be accepted, passed through and transcended. It is the touch, the presence, of Jesus which transforms suffering into a vehicle of sanctification.

Excerpt from The Mystery of Christ, chapter 1, by Fr. Thomas Keating

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