Baptism of the Lord B
Christian conversion is promoted by conversation. This section is a response to and a development on the knowledge gained from the commentary section.
This Sunday's Exposition
Tension isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Indeed, tension is what an author uses to transform a list of facts into a great story, captivating our hearts, intriguing our minds…and perhaps changing our lives. Tension is what keeps us turning the pages at night when we know we sorely need out sleep.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Mark creates a great deal on tension in a seemingly innocuous manner. If we are alive to that tension, it will challenge us time and again in our reading of this Gospel and, hopefully, in the living of our lives. When John, the preacher who had drawn so many to repentance in baptism, says that he is not worthy to undo the sandal strap of the One coming after him, the people must have wondered, ‘How holy and how great must this Messiah be!’ Then immediately Mark has Jesus emerge from Nazareth and join the queue of those to be baptised. Really! What for? In over 2,000 years, beginning with the other evangelists, the Church has struggled with the issue of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. Matthew has him object to Jesus being baptised, Luke deftly removes mention of John, putting baptism in the passive voice while John the evangelist elides Jesus’ actual baptism. But Mark baldly, and boldly, sandwiches Jesus’ action of solidarity with sinful, broken humanity between two proclamations, that of John and then the voice from heaven. This one who appears in the midst of sinful humanity is greater than John’s imagining, he is the beloved Son of God.
This tension of the presence of God in a human person who identifies with the sinful, sorrow and broken humanity remains through the Gospel and reaches its high point, and resolution, in the proclamation of the centurion at Jesus’ ignominious death, ‘Indeed, this man was Son of God!’ In the light of that tension, we are invited to review our own tensions and problems. They are not places remote from God but are, in Jesus, places where the gracious salvation of God is being offered to us.