From our Pastors
The last several weeks have been a trying time for our country. With Covid deaths topping 4,000 people a day and vaccine rollout slower than anticipated, we have seen nearly unfathomable events unfold in our nation’s capital. Coming on the heels of a year that has caused us to acknowledge and begin to address the underlying inequities and racial disparities that exist among us, we pray that we have seen the worst behaviors end and a new path forward will emerge.
In an interview with an Italian news channel which aired this past Sunday, Pope Francis admits he was shocked by the violence, which left 5 people dead, scores injured and the seat of our government vandalized and traumatized. At the same time, he said that it was good that we saw this, and he invites us to learn from this because even in a country where democracy has a strong tradition: “...there is always something wrong, something about people taking a path against the community, against democracy, against the common good.”
For too long we have heard voices speak against the common good, proffer lies and misrepresentations on electoral issues, incite resentment and hatred of government based on falsehoods and shameless self-promotion. We have been steeped in vitriol on the left and the right that has driven us to this point where the promotion of self-interest has risen to new heights and leading some to sink to new lows.
In light of the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, perhaps we might consider where we, as Catholics and as a nation, find ourselves through the lens of the scriptures. Jesus is heralded by John and baptized in the Jordan. Jesus is acknowledged as the beloved Son of God, anointed to set things right, but not in the way anticipated by most of his contemporaries and not in a manner that was embraced or understood by many in his own lifetime.
The words of Isaiah teach us:
Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting, a bruised reed he shall not break, not making his voice heard in the street,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
Is 42:1-4, 6-7
Jesus does not come to conquer, to trample or to force change. He does not work or live in a way that damages the already damaged and broken nor does he drown out the voice of the other. That which smolders near its end he does not snuff out. Rather Jesus is set as a covenant, a light, a liberator for all who are in darkness. In Acts, Peter tells us he went about doing good, healing all those oppressed by the devil.
Jesus did not need baptism, regeneration, or cleansing. When he entered the waters of the Jordan at the hands of John, Jesus chose to be baptized into the very rottenness of the world, an act of solidarity with us. Jesus’ baptism calls us to explore and understand how we are to live our baptism, following the One who sets the standard for being the beloved of God.
Fr. Michael Callaghan, c.o. and Fr. Mark Lane, c.o.