This past Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist, an event which signifies divine approval and the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. Water is a symbol of life in the scriptures, and Jesus is described as living water. The importance of water in desert cultures is paramount. A number of years ago I had the opportunity to spend several months of a sabbatical studying and traveling in the Holy Land.
On one occasion our group had a bus ride through the Judean desert. Upon stopping at a high point in the barren, inhospitable landscape, we could see in the distance a spot of green–an oasis. Further along on our trip we spotted a large rectangular plot off in the distance. Upon inquiring what this was, we were told that it was an irrigated farm. Apparently the soil of the desert is quite fertile. The problem is lack of water. If you can irrigate the land, you can farm it.
The connection we see between Jesus, his baptism, and the fertility of his message and ministry is an opportunity for us to see the fertility and fruitfulness of our baptism as linked to the loving presence and activity Jesus in our life. We too are God’s beloved sons and daughters. We too are missioned to go forth and announce the Good News of God’s saving love for all.
As you might have noticed, my images this week all have water as a feature. I’ve lived near the ocean for most of my life, and it is something that draws me for its power, its beauty, and its sheer expanse, dwarfing everything on it. For me the ocean is a symbol of divine power and majesty.
“You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11)