The Baptism of the Lord (Cycle B) – January 11, 2009 Scripture Readings First Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 Second Acts of the Apostles

10:34-38 Gospel Mark 1:7-11 Prepared by: Fr. Peter John Cameron, O.P. 1. Subject Matter
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Why does Jesus get baptized? What does the baptism of Jesus have to do with my life here and now? What is the connection of this mystery of the Lord with the sacrament of baptism? What are the graces of the mystery of the Baptism of the Lord; why is this mystery the first of the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary?

2. Exegetical Notes

“Here is…my chosen one;…he shall bring forth justice to the nations” – “He is a ‘chosen one’ like Moses, David, and all Israel;…he is commissioned to bring forth justice, a legal decision ratifying the divine will…. The Servant accomplishes his mission by transforming people interiorly” (JBC). “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him” – “The declaration ‘for God was with him’ is remarkably similar to the phrase in Stephen’s speech which explained the rise of Joseph in Egypt (Acts 7:9)…. The idea of God’s being with one [is] an Old Testament motif (see Gen 39:21)” (Marion L. Soards). “On coming up out of the water he was the heavens being torn open…and a voice from the heavens, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” - “The material found in Mk 1:9-11 is traditional, although the wording is Markan…. Jesus is presented as the beloved and only Son of God (see also Mk 12:6), who possesses a unique relationship with God that distinguishes him from all others (Mk 13:32)…. He is not the Son of God because he does certain things; he does certain things because he is the Son of God. Who he is determinens what he does, not vice versa. The pronoun “you” is emphatic, because it is unnecessary and located at the beginning of the sentence” (Robert H. Stein).


3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church

536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of his bloody death. Already he is coming to "fulfill all righteousness", that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father's will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on him". Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism "the heavens were opened" - the heavens that Adam's sin had closed - and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation. 556 On the threshold of the public life: the baptism; on the threshold of the Passover: the Transfiguration. Jesus' baptism proclaimed "the mystery of the first regeneration", namely, our Baptism. 1224 Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness." Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved Son." 1286 In the Old Testament the prophets announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the hoped-for Messiah for his saving mission. The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at his baptism by John was the sign that this was he who was to come, the Messiah, the Son of God. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit; his whole life and his whole mission are carried out in total communion with the Holy Spirit whom the Father gives him "without measure." 1694 Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, Christians are "dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus" and so participate in the life of the Risen Lord. Following Christ and united with him, Christians can strive to be "imitators of God as beloved children, and walk in love" by conforming their thoughts, words and actions to the "mind . . . which is yours in Christ Jesus," and by following his example.

4. Patristic Commentary and Other Authorities

St. Hippolytus: “If the Lord had yielded to John’s persuasion and had not been baptized, do you realize what great blessings and how many we should have been deprived of? Heaven was closed until then; our homeland on high was inaccessible. Once we had descended into the depths we were incapable of rising again to such lofty heights. The Lord was not only baptized himself; he also renewed our fallen nature and restored to us our status as God’s children.The world we see was reconciled with the world that lies beyond our vision; the angels were filled with joy; earthly disorders were remedied; mysteries were revealed; enemies were made friends.” St. Augustine: “You believed, you were baptized, your old life died, slain on the cross, buried in baptism. The old, which you lived so badly, has been buried; let the new life arise. Live a good life; live in such a way that you may live; live in such a way that when you die, you don’t die.”


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St. Ephrem the Syrian: His birth gives us purification, his baptism gives us forgiveness, his death is life to us, his ascension is our exaltation. How we should thank him!” St. Leo the Great: "The Lord Jesus placed in the font of baptism that very origin which he had assumed in the Virgin's womb. He gave to the water what he had given to his Mother. For, the same power of the Most High and overshadowing of the Holy Spirit that caused Mary to bear the Savior makes the water regenerate the believer." St. Ignatius of Antioch: “Let your baptism be ever your shield.” St. Thomas Aquinas: “The Lord was baptized not so that the waters would cleanse him but so that he could cleanse them, purifying them by his sinless flesh to assume the power of baptism. When the sons of Israel passed through the river Jordan they entered the promised land. What is special about Christ’s baptism is that it admits one to the kingdom of God: unless one is born again of water and the Spirit, one cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Christ’s passion opened heaven to men in general, but needs to be applied to those who are to enter heaven through baptism: when we were baptized in Christ Jesus, we were baptized in his death. As the begetter of the Word of the Father was appropriately revealed at Christ’s baptism through a voice, a voice bearing witness to the Sonship of the Word. At the moment when Christ came of age, and the time was opportune for him to teach and work miracles and turn people to himself, his Father witnessed publicly to his divinity so that his teaching might be believed.” St. Thomas Aquinas: “Christ shared features of all three states in which men have found themselves: the state of innocence, of guilt, and of glory. He shared the sight of God with the saints’ state of glory, immunity from sin with Adam’s state of innocence, and the necessity of suffering this life’s pains with our state of guilt. And because he himself suffered and was tried, he has the power to help others who are tried. It was fitting for the Son of God to take on a body subject to human weaknesses and failings, since he came into the world to make amends for the sin of mankind, and one makes amends for another’s sin by taking on oneself the penalty the other has incurred. Our bodily failings—death, hunger, thirst, and so on—are penalties of the sin Adam brought into the world, so it was fitting, given the purpose of the Incarnation, that the Son of God should take on these penalties on our behalf—surely he has born our infirmities. Moreover, doing this buttressed our faith in his Incarnation: we know human nature only with such failings, and if he had taken a nature without them he would not have seemed real but imaginary. So he emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, born in the likeness of men. By seeing his wounds Thomas was recalled to faith. Thirdly, by courageously bearing human sufferings and failing, the Word of God gave us an example of patience: consider him who endured the hostility of sinners, and do not grow weary or fainthearted. But, whereas the material, so to speak, which makes amends for another’s sin are the penalties born on is behalf, the efficacy of the amends made depends on the disposition of soul which inspired this making amends for others, the love of charity.” St. Gregory Palamas: “Christ came for baptism partly out of obedience towards the One who sent John. Other reasons were to make himself known, to make a beginning of guiding us towards salvation, and to confirm to his followers, who were baptized in accordance with his teaching and commandments, that the Holy Spirit is given in baptism, and that through the Holy Spirit baptism is made a cleansing remedy for the stains sunk deeply into us, because of having been born and living in the passions. Even if the heavy burden of mortal flesh still weighs them down so as to exercise, test, and correct them, and so that they might forsake 3

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the wretchedness of this world, invisibly, however, they have put on Christ (Gal 3:27), so they can strive to share in his manner of life here and now, and afterwards, when they depart hence, to be partakers of his blessedness, radiance, and incorruption. Just as through one man, Adam, liability to death passed, down by heredity to those born afterwards, so the grace of eternal and heavenly life passed down from the one divine and human Word to all those born again of him.”

Nicholas Cabasilas: “Baptism confers being and, in short, existence according to Christ. It receives us when we are dead and corrupted, and first leads us into life. The anointing with chrism perfects him who has received birth by infusing into him the energy that befits such a life.” Venerable Louis of Grenada: “Jesus came into the company of publicans, sinners, and Pharisees as if he were one of them, and waited his turn to be baptized. Whenever Christ humbled himself, he was glorified in some manner. He was born in a stable and praised with music from heaven; he was circumcised like any sinner and was given the name of Jesus, which means Savior of sinners; he would die on a cross between two thieves and the heavens would become dark, the earth would tremble, rocks would split, the dead would come to life, and all the elements would be affected. So also in this event; he is the Son of God. From this all his disciples can know that never again will they be humbled for the love of God without being glorified by the same God.” Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity: Do you not see the cloud that’s full of light— It reaches us, this blaze from splendent skies!— All-silent, let us gaze upon the sight To fix on Changeless Beauty with our eyes. A look from Christ…as water is made clear, God’s purity is formed in us by this. That he may deify, let us dwell here— Our souls in his soul, and our eyes in his. Himself, he comes to kiss us! so to be Our love beyond the telling. In his shade (He hovers over, to protect us) we By sight of him are fruitful virgins made. The Father’s Splendor, beautiful; how bright Is Christ our Lord. Lit by Divinity, He is himself a burning hearth of Light That wraps his own about with radiancy… When will it end at last, our waiting-state? When, offer up ourselves as though to fire? Let us adore our dear Lamb as we wait. To purify us— this is his desire. Do you not feel a passion now to show To Christ a little of his love? That way I want to die: to say ‘I love you, so As you did, I yield up myself today!’ 4

Fr. Barthelemy Froget, O.P.: “‘That holiness which exists in God essentially and substantially is by grace given to our soul as a gift and a boon; we are thus to share in a goodness essentially divine” (St. Thomas Aquinas). Grace is a very great and precious gift by which we are made partakers of the divine nature; or by the mouth of Saint John, that we are called and really are the sons of God, being born of God. This communication of God’s nature is real, actual, and specific. This communication consisting in the granting of a created gift which is distinct from the divine nature and yet the living image of it.” Msgr. Luigi Giussani: “It is in baptism that man is enabled to grow and become aware of himself, with an awareness that opens into an announcement of a relationship that exceeds our capacity…. Baptism is the place where belonging to God acquires from God himself…a nature that is greater.” Sr. Aemiliana Löhr: “Our life in Christ that began with our baptism has been renewed. Christ our God has led us from death to life. No matter how long ago the day of our baptism, time and space count for nothing in the sacred mystery. It has happened now; it is now that we have put on the new being.” Msgr. Luigi Giussani: “Belonging to Christ in the whole of one’s existence implies the event of a new humanity: in Christ we are born as a new man. This event has a place where it emerges: Baptism. Baptism is the act with which Christ takes a life, elects, and chooses a life. Baptism is the place where the mystery dies inside human evil and rises by the divine power that it has within it. It is the place where belonging to God acquires from God himself a super-nature, a nature that is greater. It is in Baptism that man is enabled to grow and become aware of himself, with an awareness that opens through an announcement in his soul of an exceptional, surpassing relationship, that would exceed his capacity. Every baptized person has a capacity to be united before every diversity: every baptized person echoes the unity of God as mystery.” Fr. Hans Urs von Balthasar: "If Jesus at his baptism associates with sinners and the excluded, this is because he is the worldly countenance of God the Father, a face that meets the lonely and isolated in their inner and outer loneliness and isolation." Msgr. Luigi Giussani: “If I am baptized, I was baptized so that the power which transformed me in Baptism, the power of the mystery which has transformed me in Baptism, wanted to pass through me in order to reach others along many paths and occasions. This is the ontology of our relationship. The relationship between the baptized person and all men wells up from this end, from this aim that the mystery communicated to us in Baptism. This energy that he gave us in Baptism has begun to make us know the aim he had in baptizing us, in choosing and baptizing us. This is the source of the ethics, the behavior to be followed, that which I must follow when I become aware of my Baptism, which cannot be forgotten in any action—; on no day, in no hour has man the right to forget this choice. The aim of this choice penetrates the whole organics of the human phenomenon, of the human gesture, of man’s commitment: it penetrates everything in order to reach an aim that surpasses it on every side, an aim that is greater.… So the presence of Jesus Christ which is in every day, every hour of the life of the baptized, and, therefore for the whole of mankind, is an event— according to the perception given us (quite persuasively!) by our charisma. It is an event that we encounter in the present, in the “now,” in circumstances, which spread the evidence of a 5

vocational companionship as emergence of the mystery of the Church, the mysterious Body of Christ.” 5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars

St. Genesius, martyr (+303) – A former pagan Roman actor, he deceived the local Church into believing that he wanted to convert. Genesius was enrolled as a catechumen. He was particularly interested in baptism. With what he learned, he decided that this would form the theme of a comedy to mock Christianity. When he had done enough research, he abandoned the catechumenate. As he had hoped, the emperor was present at the performance and Genesius himself led his troupe of actors in the farce: he was playing the role of a sick man confined to bed who was crying out for baptism. As the play grew more outrageous – to the delight of the emperor, an actor playing a priest came on stage to “baptize” the ailing catechumen. As the actor poured the water over his head, Genesius was suddenly struck by the grace of God: he saw the truth of Christianity and began to profess his faith in Jesus Christ. It soon became clear to the emperor and the audience that he was no longer acting. According to the Acts of his martyrdom, Genesius addressed the emperor himself and called on him to embrace Christianity: “I came here today to please an earthly Emperor but what I have done is please a heavenly King. I came here to give you laughter, but what I have done is give joy to God and his angels. From this moment on, believe me, I will never mock these great mysteries again. I now know that the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God, the Light, the Truth and the Mercy of all who have received his gift of baptism. O great Emperor, believe in these mysteries! I will teach you, and you will know the Lord Jesus Christ is the true God.”

6. Quotations from Pope Benedict XVI

“In Baptism the tiny human being receives a new life, the life of grace, which enables him or her to enter into a personal relationship with the Creator for ever, for the whole of eternity. In us sin creates an abyss in which we risk being engulfed for ever unless the Father who is in Heaven stretches out his hand to us. This is the mystery of Baptism: God desired to save us by going to the bottom of this abyss himself so that every person, even those who have fallen so low that they can no longer perceive Heaven, may find God's hand to cling to and rise from the darkness to see once again the light for which he or she was made. We all feel, we all inwardly comprehend that our existence is a desire for life which invokes fullness and salvation. This fullness is given to us in Baptism. Basically, the whole mystery of Christ in the world can be summed up in this term: ‘baptism’, which in Greek means ‘immersion.’ The Son of God, who from eternity shares the fullness of life with the Father and the Holy Spirit, was ‘immersed’ in our reality as sinners to make us share in his own life. Why did the Father desire this? The purpose of Christ's existence was precisely to give humanity God's life and his Spirit of love so that every person might be able to draw from this inexhaustible source of salvation. For this reason Christian parents, bring their children to the baptismal font as soon as possible, knowing that life which they have communicated calls for a fullness, a salvation that God alone can give. And parents thus become collaborators of God, transmitting to their children not only physical but also spiritual life. “What do we hope for from Baptism? We hope for eternal life for our children. This is the purpose of Baptism. But how can it be obtained? How can Baptism offer eternal life? What is eternal life? In simpler words, we might say: we hope for a good life, the true life, for these 6

children of ours; and also for happiness in a future that is still unknown. We are unable to guarantee this gift for the entire span of the unknown future, so we turn to the Lord to obtain this gift from him. Through Baptism each child is inserted into a gathering of friends who never abandon him in life or in death because these companions are God's family, which in itself bears the promise of eternity. And if we can say that love and truth are sources of life, are life itself - and a life without love is not life - we can say that this companionship with the One who is truly life, with the One who is the Sacrament of life, will respond to your expectation, to your hope.”

“In Jesus’ world, righteousness is man’s answer to the Torah, acceptance of the whole of God’s will, the bearing of the ‘yoke of God’s kingdom,’ as one formulation had it. In a world marked by sin, Jesus’ Yes to the entire will of God in his Baptism also expresses solidarity with men, who have incurred guilt but yearn for righteousness.” “Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths off the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the cross. The Baptism is an acceptance of deth for the sins of humanity.” “To accept the invitation to be baptized now means to go to the place of Jesus’ Baptism. It is to go where he identifies himself with us and to receive there our identification with him. The point where he anticipates death has now become the point where we anticipate rising again with him.” “Jesus’ Baptism is a descent into the house of the evil one, combat with the ‘strong man’ (cf. Lk 11:22) who holds men captive (and the truth is that we are all very much captive to powers that anonymously manipulate us!).” “By his entrance into a communion of name with God, man is drawn into a new existence, that he is, as it were, one who has been born anew, who has already been. The Yes of love for another involves a far-reaching renunciation of self. Only in the measure in which man risks the passion of truth does he become a man. Being baptized means assuming the name of Christ, means becoming a son with and in him. The demand made by the name into which one here enters is more radical than the demand of any earthly name can be. It attacks the roots of our autonomy more deeply than the deepest earthly bond can do. For it demands that our existence become ‘sonlike’, that we belong so totally to God that we become an ‘attribute’ of God. And as sons we are to acknowledge so totally that we belong to Christ that we know ourselves to be one flesh, ‘one body’, with all his brethren. Baptism means, then, that we lose ourselves as a separate, independent ‘I’ and find ourselves again in a new ‘I.’” Baptism serves the purpose of giving a meaning to man’s life, above and beyond biological life, so that this life is justified. The gift of life can only be justified if I can give a new person more than mere biological life. If I can give him, along with it, a meaning that I know to be stronger than all the darkness of history. That is what baptism is, which takes him up into fellowship with Christ. Baptism is, in fact, much more than a ritual conferring membership in a community, as many people conceive it nowadays. It is a process of birth, through which a new dimension of life opens out. At Baptism, my “I” is taken away from me and is incorporated into a new and greater subject. This means that my “I” is back again, but now transformed, broken up, opened through


incorporation into the other, in whom it acquires its new breadth of existence. Christ alone carries within himself the whole “promise.”

In the Gospel account of the baptism of Jesus, the mystery of death and Resurrection, sin and redemption, sin and forgiveness is prefigured: Jesus descends into the depths of the Jordan. Being submerged in the river is a symbolic representation of the process of death. An old life is buried, so that a new one can arise. Because Jesus himself is without sin and has no old life to bury, his acceptance of baptism is an anticipation of the cross, whereby he begins to share in our lot and to take upon himself our sins and our death. The opening of heaven is a sign that this descent into our night is the dawning of a new day, that the barrier between God and man is being broken down by this identification of the Son with us: God is no longer inaccessible; in the depths of our sins, and even of death, he searches for us and brings us into the light again. To this extent the baptism of Jesus anticipates the entire drama of his life and death and at the same time explains them to us. Baptism establishes a communion of name with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is, in this respect, somewhat analogous to the act of marriage, which establishes between two individuals a communion of name. Baptism is the inception of Resurrection, inclusion in the name of God and, by the same token, in the indestructible aliveness of God. Being baptized would thus be the call to share in Jesus’ relationship with God.

7. Other Considerations

We are familiar with the famous ancient myth of Narcissus. One day this handsome young man, wearied and overheated with hunting, stretched out by an alluring pool of water to quench his thirst. As he drank he became enraptured with the beautiful reflection that peered back at him. Spellbound, he fell in love with his own self, mistaking a mere shadow for a real body. Again and again, the frustrated Narcissus tried to embrace the vision he beheld…but to no avail. Yet, as futile as his efforts were, Narcissus refused to give up and turn away. So, after a long time, worn out by languish and longing, Narcissus laid down his head by the water and died. The myth of Narcissus strikes a deep chord in us because it takes us back to paradise and the sin of our first parents. Professor John Saward explains that “the devil and his demons are angels who were created good and beautiful by God but who fell into hell because they fell in love with their own beauty…The sin of Satan is the sin of Narcissus… The devil can and does abuse beauty in order to entice men into the worship of self and the rejection of God.” In the book The Dilemma of Narcissus, professor Louis Lavelle describes just how much like Narcissus we really are. He writes that Narcissus “had to go out from himself in order to give himself someone to love, and yet the object of his passion would dissolve away if he succeeded in reaching it. Nothing but a little water separates him from himself. He thrusts his arms in to grasp what he longs for, but which must remain for ever a mere image. He can gaze at himself, but he cannot lay hold upon himself. He is wasting away, but he cannot tear himself from the spot…He watches himself, instead of living; and this is his first sin. He tries to find his essence, and finds nothing but his image, which leaves him eternally dissatisfied…In the end the spectacle unnerves him: from now onwards, he loses his capacity to live…He must go forth from himself if he is to possess himself; if he seeks himself, he will waste away in the search…Narcissus thinks he can find the secret of the 8

world in himself, and that is why he fails to find himself…Narcissus’ crime is to choose his image and reject his self…” As a result of the effects of original sin, we, like Narcissus, remain caught up in a kind of idolatry of self, deluded and delirious. We cannot tear ourselves away from our selfinfatuation. That is why One who is breathtakingly beautiful comes to us by way of his baptism. As Jesus begins his public ministry, God-made-man is, like Narcissus, “hunting”— but he is hunting for the salvation of souls who in their spellbound self-obsession reject God. The Lord’s hunt takes him to the river Jordan where, like Narcissus, Jesus too is thirsty, but with the thirst for our redemption that will leave Christ parched on the cross. Peering into those waters, Jesus adores, not a gorgeous body, but his own eternal Father whom he recognizes in the image of God that is reflected back to him. In order to break our addiction to self-worship, Jesus must lay hold of that injured and impaired image he loves. He must unite himself with wasted humanity. But to do this, Jesus must go forth from himself. However, Jesus doesn’t grasp at the water. Rather, the Lord asks John the Baptist to pour a little water on him so that, in identifying with our sinful condition, Jesus can begin to eliminate that alienation that keeps us separated from ourselves. Despite the agony and longing involved, Christ will not give up. He will persist until he reaches Calvary…until he effects our reconciliation. At his baptism, Jesus lays down his life in the water, not out of desolation and defeat, but out of love and obedience to the Father. He sacrifices his self in choosing to restore and perfect our divine image. Through Christ’s death, and our baptism into it (see Rom 6:3), Jesus recovers our capacity to live. Jesus in his baptism shows us how much we need to go out of ourselves if we are to find ourselves. The incomparable beauty of Christ’s gesture compels us. We cannot find the secret of the world in ourselves. It is found only in the death and resurrection of the Son of God. Soon Jesus will teach us: “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10:39). That is what the mystery of the baptism of the Lord is all about.

Parable for the Baptism of the Lord: Once upon a time, a great king arrived in a beautiful land to establish his kingdom. But the land was so very beautiful that he had a hard time choosing just where to make his home. And so he turned to his new country and asked it to help him decide on the perfect place to live. The sea spoke up first. “You must make your home on me, the majestic sea, O great king,” said the sea. “For Moses passed through me leading the Hebrews to the promised land. I am beautiful to look at, and my salty surf is soothing.” But at that moment, the mountain interrupted: “Ah, but sea, you are sneaky. Since you are so wide and vast, sometimes you hide the fish from the fisherman so that they cannot catch them. Because of you, people go without food, and sometimes the fishermen even lose their jobs.” “Not only that,” interjected the garden, “but on you raging storms suddenly swell up, shipwrecking all those going about you on boats. You are an angry, savage sea. That is why I think I am the perfect place to live,” continued the garden. “In me Adam and Eve made their paradise. I am peaceful, sweet, and lush, filled with splendid flowers and fruits.” “But,” argued the sea, “you grow tempting, tricky trees. Because of you, Adam and Eve were expelled from their paradise and cast out into the wasteland to till the rocky ground.” 9

“Not only that,” objected the mountain, “but a garden is the place where disciples desert their master. No, you growing garden are the home of agony, desertion, and betrayal. Which makes it clear that I, the great mountain, am the only place for a king to live. It was on the mountain that Moses received the Ten Commandments. I am the perfect place for a king to proclaim Beatitudes, for a king to be transfigured, for a king even to ascend into heaven.” “You mean the perfect place to be tempted by Satan,” sniped the jealous sea. “You mean the perfect place to be crucified,” growled the grouchy garden. And as the king winced at the awful bickering between the mountain, the garden, and sea, he saw not far away a humble river flowing past them slowly and silently, looking broken and sad. “And what about you, O river,” said the king, “why don’t you make your bid for my royal home?” And the river softly replied, “O great king, I am not worthy of such a regal guest. The great sea offers you its pleasing beaches, but my rough current would sweep you away. You can climb the great mountain and reach great heights, but if you step into me you will sink to my dark depths. The great garden is filled with beauty, but my waters are polluted. If you get too close, you can tell how they smell. In them surely you would drown. No, I am so dirty that I do not deserve any kind of a king.” And with that, the hurting river began to weep. And its tears were so great that they flooded over the river’s tall banks. And then the king cried too. After a long while, the king spoke again and he said, “I have come to my decision. Great sea, you are majestic; great garden you are splendid; great mountain, you are lofty. But you, murky river, you are not great at all. You are miserable, you are needy, you are humble...and you smell pretty bad. And for that reason, I choose you for my home. A majestic sea does not need a king. Neither does a splendid garden, nor a lofty mountain. I choose you, lowly river, because you need me most.” And with that, the king stepped into the river. And suddenly the river’s muddy waters turned crystal clear, perfect in their purity, brilliant, glistening, glorious, and sparkling with radiant new life. And as he emerged from the river, the great king said, “Now I am ready to walk across you, O sea, to still your storms and to comfort my fearful fisherman in their wave-tossed boat. Now I am ready to pray in you, O garden, even though rivers of sweat may pour from me like blood in my agony. Now I am ready to carry my cross up to your high summit, O mountain. For there my heart shall be pierced as it must. And a river of blood and water shall pour forth from my side. And in that life-giving river, all those called to my kingdom shall forever make their home…” Recommended Resources Benedict XVI, Pope. Benedictus. Yonkers: Magnificat, 2006. ________________. Jesus of Nazareth. New York: Doubleday, 2007. pp. 9-24. Biblia Clerus:


Cameron, Peter John. To Praise, To Bless, To Preach—Cycle B. Huntington: Our Sunday Visitor, 2001. Hahn, Scott: Martin, Francis:


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