Sunday, January 13, 2019

Recognitions: A Sunday Rumination

     From The Gospel According To Luke:

     And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. [Luke 1:41-45]

     Elisabeth, of course, was Mary’s elder cousin, the woman whom the angel Gabriel promised a son despite her age and her previous barrenness. That was a miracle in and of itself – but Elisabeth’s immediate recognition that Mary would bear the Son of God was a still greater miracle.

     But it would not be the only such recognition. For some years later, when Elisabeth’s son John was grown to manhood, he undertook to be the “voice of one crying in the wilderness” of whom Isaiah spoke, and proclaimed “a baptism of repentance. And this came to pass:

     Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?
     And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.
     And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. [Matthew 3:13-17]

     For John the Baptist had recognized Jesus as the Son of God, just as his mother had recognized the Christ Child in Mary’s womb:

     The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. [John 1:29-31]

     It would be celebrated as the inception of Jesus’s public ministry, though the first of His miracles was yet to come.

     The ministry of Jesus to the peoples of Judea came after He had spent thirty years making his living as a carpenter in the tradition of Joseph. During that time He went unrecognized. He had performed no miracles. His first miracle came after John had baptized Him:

     And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
     And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
     Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
     His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
     And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
     Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
     When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
     This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

     Many other miracles would follow.

     It isn’t often given to men to have foreknowledge of great things. John received such foreknowledge when he beheld, in Jesus, the fulfillment of the central prophecy of the Jews. Thus the Messiah was proclaimed to the world by His mortal family: a fitting annunciation for a people to whom family has always been the highest priority. So today we commemorate Jesus’s baptism by his elder second cousin John, the first great milestone after His Nativity, both as the start of His public life and for John’s recognition, thirty years after Elisabeth’s, of the Son of God made flesh. For it is no small thing to confront the fulfillment of a prophecy, and to recognize it for what it was.

     May God bless and keep you all.

1 comment:

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Good stuff Fran, now to get ready for Church. Have a great week.