The coming of the year 2021 was an event that many people looked forward to with great anticipation. Anything would be better than 2020; between the pandemic, shutdowns, riots, and unemployment, just about anything would be a step up from the past year of complete uncertainty and chaos.
January 1, 2021 came and went, yet the problems of our country and world carried on undeterred. Political and social unrest didn’t skip a beat, and neither did the anxiety and spiked emotions of the world. At every moment, we are barraged with the latest story, inside scoop, conspiracy or wrongdoing of some person in some place for something.
These things matter, yes. Justice should be upheld, yes. The truth should be revealed, yes. But in all of this mess, in all of this chaos, all of the misleading words and actions we need to be certain that we are holding highest the one thing that really matters:
Who do we belong to?
As St. Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” Do we really believe this? And if we do, are we acting as if we do?
This past Sunday was the Baptism of the Lord, where we see for the first time the wholeness of the Trinity presented in the Gospels. As Christ is immersed in the waters of the Jordan River, a dove descends, and we hear the voice of God proclaim, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” It is at this point that Jesus has entered into His public ministry.
I was able to visit the Jordan River on pilgrimage two years ago. It was incredible to think that I was able to stand in the same river that our Lord was dipped in; that the water that rushed past Him was now rushing past me. Now keep in mind, it is a river. It’s colored like a river, with dirt and sand and leaves floating by. It doesn’t quite resemble the sparkling blue waters that many paintings depict. It’s really not even beautiful at all – but that’s the beauty of Christ: He makes all things beautiful. He takes what is human and broken and turns it into something that is fixed and right. Isn’t that true for all of the situations of our lives?
The beauty of baptism is that it is something that we as Christians get to share with our Lord and Savior. By being baptized, Jesus sanctified the waters that would transform the people of the world into His brothers and sisters, and by being baptized ourselves, we are brought into a communion with He who was baptized first. It’s from this point on in our lives as baptized Christians and Catholics that we have but one mission, and that is to live the Christian life. A life filled with virtue, with right order, with charity, truth, and justice. A life lived simply for Christ.
I won’t even attempt to try and list the things that fall under “living the Christian life” here, but I do challenge you to ask yourself “Am I living the Christian life?” Am I a Christian who answers first to the Lord and not to the things of this world? And if not, what needs to change?
Peace and justice and truth don’t start with government. They don’t start with organizations. They don’t even start with families. They start with us. As we move forward into all the unknown that 2021 has to offer, I hope that we can keep the call of Christ first and foremost in our hearts and minds. Afterall, it is what He desires of us.