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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

刊登日期: 2014.01.12
作者: Fr. Thomas Au 區耀邦神父  

    With this feast, we jump thirty years from Jesus’ birth to the start of His public life. Matthew’s Gospel told us that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Egypt to escape from Herod. On their return, they lived in Nazareth. When Jesus was twelve years old they went to Jerusalem where the incredible event of Jesus staying behind at the Temple took place. He had an encounter with the leaders of the Temple and they found His grasp of faith astounding. St. Luke next told of the account of the Baptism of Jesus when He was thirty years old. Little else is known of the in-between years and the apparent passing of St. Joseph.
    We would like to know more, out of curiosity if nothing else. But no more details were passed on. This is probably because the Church, the early Church anyway, wanted to focus on His words and deeds. St. Luke merely said that “And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.” (Lk 2:52)
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, in his book “Jesus of Nazareth”, that at His baptism is the definitive manifestation of the Unity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When Jesus was coming out of the water of Jordan, a voice was heard (from the Father), “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” just as the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in the form of a dove. (Lk 3:22)
    This was the beginning of the very difficult and mysterious disclosure of Jesus that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In various parts of the Gospel of John, particularly in the chapters 15 to 17, this unfolding of a deeper relationship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit was told to the apostles.
    To us, this central mystery of the inner life of God as the Holy Trinity is almost taken for granted, but not so to the Apostles and the early Church. They had to grapple with this aspect of Jesus’ teaching with their own faith in One God. His very last words at His Ascension commanded them to “baptize in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” (Mt 28:19) It would take the Church almost three hundred years to settle it in the declaration at the Council of Nicea in 325A.D.
    What lesson can we learn from this? That the Church takes time with any weighty topics. Time is on God’s side. He does not mind that we have to gradually grow in the depth of what He wants to teach us. Like any good teacher who paces the student with gradually deepening difficult lessons, God had done the same with the doctrines of the Church. We, on the other hand, would like to know right now. We have to acquire the humility to learn slowly.
    In my experience, the hardest part of teaching, especially with upper grade young people, is that some lessons cannot be hurried. They have to wait for readiness to grapple subjects while they grow in their own maturity and perception. We call it educational psychology. We learn in stages. Before we can handle abstract thoughts, we cannot learn algebra. And only in time can we, or even only some of us, learn calculus, even though calculus is simply a more abstract application of algebra. For the time being, we can only do the mathematic problems as we are taught. It will “dawn” on us in due time. It is enough that, for the time being, He said it and it must be true. And that is what faith is about.


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