At the moment in which Jesus, baptized by John, comes out of the waters of the River Jordan, the voice of God the Father is heard from on high: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (v. 17). At the same time the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, alights upon Jesus, who publicly begins his mission of salvation; a mission characterized by a manner: the way of a humble and gentle servant, armed only with the power of truth, as Isaiah had prophesied: “He will not cry or lift up his voice, … a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice” (42:2-3). A humble and gentle servant.
How much do I depend on the Holy Spirit, and allow oneself to be molded into a resemblance to Christ gentle and humble of heart, as a Daughter of Charity am I committed to the practice of humility, simplicity, and charity?
This is Jesus’ way, as well as the manner of Christ’s disciples’ missionary work: To proclaim the Gospel with gentleness, but also firmness, without shouting, without reprimanding anyone, but gently and firmly, without arrogance or imposition. The true mission is never proselytism, but drawing people to Christ.
But how? How is this attraction to Christ achieved?
With one’s own witness, starting from the unwavering union with him in prayer, in adoration and in concrete works of charity, which is service to Jesus present in the least of his brothers and sisters. In imitation of Jesus, the good and merciful Shepherd, and moved by his grace, we are called to make our life a joyous testimony that illuminates the way, that brings hope and love
And we now come to the Second Reading and to the Gospel. They say that the first and principal education takes place through witness. The Gospel speaks of John the Baptist. John was a great educator of his disciples, because he led them to the encounter with Jesus to whom he bore witness. He did not exalt himself, he did not wish to keep his disciples bound to him. Yet John was a great prophet, his fame was very great. When Jesus arrived John drew back and pointed to him: “After me comes he who is mightier than I…. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mk 1:7-8).
The true teacher does not bind people to himself, he is not possessive. He wants his son or daughter, or disciple, to learn to know the truth and to establish a personal relationship with it. The educator does his duty fully, he assures his attentive and faithful presence because his objective is that the person being educated listen to the voice of truth speaking to his heart and follow it on a personal journey.
What has been my testimony or witness to the people I have to educate? Am I able to take the attitude of humility of John the Baptist to my mission? Or, do I try to appear in the first place rather than Christ Himself?
“And the Spirit is the witness” (1 Jn 5:7). He is referring to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who bears witness to Jesus, testifying that he is the Christ, the Son of God. This is also apparent in the scene of the Baptism in the River Jordan: the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus as a dove to reveal that he is the Only-Begotten Son of the eternal Father (cf. Mk 1:10). In his Gospel too, John underlines this aspect where Jesus says to the disciples: “When the Counsellor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning” (Jn 15:26-27). This is a great comfort to us in the work of educating in faith, because we know that we are not alone and that our witness is sustained by the Holy Spirit.
May the Virgin Mary help all of us Christians to maintain an ever keen and grateful awareness of our own Baptism and to faithfully follow the path opened by this Sacrament of our rebirth. Ever with humility, gentleness and firmness.