Gospel of Mark 1:7-11
‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you’
In the course of his preaching John the Baptist said:
‘Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.’
It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’
The first aspect of this Gospel that attracts me is John’s humility. Although he has a big following he demonstrates what true leadership is. His focus is on God and so in turn gets out the way of being the centre of attention. John has discerned his role and the right ordering of things. He is able to respond with freedom. John’s leadership is without ego.
This paves the way for Jesus to encounter God in a safe place that is in freedom and thus complete. It is life giving for Jesus and the consequences of this encounter with God provide him with the knowledge of his identity as ‘God’s Son the beloved’. Jesus then begins his ministry in knowledge of his union with God.
Jesus Baptism has consequences for his work and ministry over the next three years as the Gospels will show us. However, his Baptism also has consequences for us here and now.
Imaginative contemplation of this Gospel is one of the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius of Loyola. Mary Ward encouraged all her sisters to experience these Spiritual Exercises. I might like to follow in their footsteps.
I imagine the scene at the river Jordan. I notice the place, the people, the weather…all the details.
What can I see and hear?
Where am I in the scene?
I notice my feelings. What am I attracted to? Perhaps I am resistant?
What is happening?
Where is Jesus?
I let the scene unfold. Knowing that God works through my imagination and is always revealing more of Godself to me in prayer.
I conclude this contemplation in a conversation with God about what I have discovered.