Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 / Acts 10:34-38 / Matthew 3:13-17
As a matter of fact, about 70% of the earth’s surface is covered with water. That is quite a lot of water.With 70% of the earth’s surface covered with water, it means that only 30% is dry land. But we don’t really feel that there is so little dry land, because we are on dry land most of the time and it is only when we go to the beach or when we go on a cruise that we see quite a bit of water.
Not only the earth’s surface is covered by 2/3 with water, the human body has up to 60% of water. The brain and heart are composed of about 73% water.
So when a person is lovey-dovey, we say that the person is so mushy. Well that’s because the brain and heart are getting all watery.
So, water is indeed important to the Earth as well as to human beings. It is said that we can survive for more than 3 weeks without food, but we won’t last more than a week without water.
But of course that doesn’t mean that we are like fishes that need to be surrounded by water. In fact, being submerged in water for too long a time will cause some problems.
Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord highlights once again the importance of water. There is no doubt that John the Baptist baptized Jesus in the waters of the River Jordan.
In the gospel account of the baptism of Jesus, as soon as He was baptized, He came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down upon Him. And a voice spoke from heaven, “This is my Son, the Beloved, my favour rest on him.”
It is an account that we have heard numerous times and we have also seen those images of the baptism of Jesus.
But there is one rather natural action of Jesus that we may take for granted and it does not really catch our attention.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, He came up from the water. He didn’t go swimming or went diving. He came up from the water, and we might think that it is only natural. There is nothing really significant about that.
But it was only when Jesus came up from the water that astonishing things began to happen.
Jesus went into the water to be baptized by John the Baptist. Jesus immersed Himself into the water so as to immerse Himself into the reality of human life and to become like one of us in all things but sin.
But Jesus came up from the water so as to lead humanity into a new revelation and a new mission.
In coming up and out of the water, Jesus was empowered by the Holy Spirit as it descended upon Him. He was also proclaimed as the beloved Son of the Father.
The second reading tells us that after His baptism, God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power, and Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.
Jesus came to free captured humanity from the prison of sin and the darkness of evil.
With our own baptism, we too have come out of the water to follow Jesus our Master to live righteous lives and to be rays of light that shine out into the darkened world.
We too are empowered by the Holy Spirit to live as children of God and to be children of the light.
But when we lose our focus on Jesus and forget our baptismal promises, we slip back into the waters that we came up from.
And those are not clean waters. Those are the waters that have washed away our sins and so we get submerged into “sinful waters”.
But even if we don’t slip into the “sinful waters”, living out the Christian life is challenging enough.
Just as the Earth is covered 70% by water, we find ourselves surrounded by “sinful waters”.
Here is where the analogy of the ship comes in. Ships don’t sink because of the water around them. Ships sink because of the water that gets into them.
Therefore as we come up from the water and sail in the ship of salvation, we must not let what’s happening around us get inside us and sink us back into the sinful waters.
Like Jesus, we have to come up from the water to sail in the ship of salvation.
We must also help others get into this ship of salvation, because Jesus came not to break the crushed reed or snuff out the wavering flame.
Jesus came up from the water to save us. May we also come up from the water and asked Jesus to save us from the sinful waters.
May we also stay in the ship of salvation, the Church, and help those to come up from the water and find salvation.