We start the Christmas Ordinary Time part of our Church year today — some weeks between the Advent and Christmas season and the beginning of Lent — “counted” weeks; the number will depend on whether Easter is early or late, which depends on the first full moon of spring. This year Easter is “late,” and so we’ll have eight weeks of Ordinary Time now, and the rest after Pentecost. The first week of Ordinary Time is always celebrated as the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. So our Gospel today recounts how John is baptizing people and how Jesus, his cousin, is also baptized. Luke places this account at the beginning of his life of Jesus because Luke is teaching his hearers the true identity of Jesus. Luke does this through the words of the Baptist — one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. And through the words of the voice from heaven, you are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased. Sometimes our catechetical past makes us think of baptism as purification from sin. Baptism is entrance to a life of the Spirit, filled with the fire that explodes us into the mission of discipleship and proclamation of the Good News. In the next weeks our Gospels will show us Jesus moving out into mission. I think we need this feast every year because we get tired, lulled into a comfortable religiosity. And every year this Gospel asks us if we still have fire in our belly for the Lord!
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia