This gospel tells us of the final event of a series of stories that present to us a message of: “God is with us as a human being.” In advent we have the story of Joseph being visited by an angel who says it is God’s doing that Mary is pregnant. We hear of Elizabeth meeting Mary, and the baby in her womb jumping for joy at being present to the baby in Mary’s womb. The shepherds are visited by the angels telling them Jesus—God is here. The three kings also are visited by an angel and lead by a star to see the God child, etc. Today’s gospel is another event where heaven and earth touch, where the adult John and the adult Jesus again meet, and the Spirit through John’s baptism of Jesus announces the truth that this is God’s Son on earth—God’s beloved son.
But why did Jesus need to be baptized? After all, it is pretty clear now that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us in human flesh. Why does he not just begin his ministry? After all, he is the savior that the people of Israel had been expecting for centuries. A writer named Blue Eyed Ennis had a blog that I have used for a number of years to reflect on scripture. Blue Eyed Ennis suggests that this is where Jesus embraces the human aspect of himself. Here as an adult, he accepts that he is a human being even though he has heard the stories and knows on some level that he is God. So he asks to be baptized and then goes to the desert for 40 days and experiences the temptations all humans have, “to want to be God.” He has to learn to reject his human will and only seek the will of God. Here he learns that, first and foremost, it is not his will as a human being, even though he has God power residing in him, as to how to live, but rather, it is always “the will of his father” that He must chose. So maybe he chose to be baptized to say to you and me that we too must totally seek only the will of God in our lives. He provides the template for going to God.
The first step in your learning this task, Jeanne d’Arc, occurred on December 29th, 1935, when you were baptized Ann Marie Labedoyere Huchet de Kerion. Then as an adult, you consciously and formally stated your intention to live this kind of lifestyle—to seek the will of God totally according to the Rule of Benedict—again on a December day, December 30, 1956, at St. Scholastica Priory Covington, Louisiana, you chose to seek God as a member of a Benedictine monastic community.
This intentional yes to seeking God’s will lead you in a journey of many different paths over the years. This “yes” led you to say yes to spending a number of years in Columbia as a missionary, to being prioress of your community, to initiating the questions of the future of your monastery, to being caretaker of the remnants of your monastery and as caretaker of your mother, and finally to formally returning to monastic life here at another St. Scholastica monastery. One “yes” has stretched the years in unseen ways and now has come to rest here again at a St. Scholastica Monastery in Atchison, Kansas. Again today, in your golden years, you will renew once again what started at baptism, that we belong only to God and live only to do His will.