Epiphany Essay (3) – Freedom

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.”
The third of the three wonders of Epiphany is celebrated today, the Feast of the Baptism of  the Lord. Earlier in the week, I spoke of the wedding at Cana and the visit of the wise men, which are traditionally understood as the other manifestations of Christ to the world. The Baptism of the Lord brings together the messianic calling of Christ and, once again, draws our attention to the mystery of the Incarnation.
I have a lot less to say about this particular feast–many good reflections, I suppose, are available online, but I note one important point that has to be raised about how this is connected to the mystery of the Incarnation. By choosing to be baptized just like everyone, Jesus shares in our humanity, our frail condition. But by doing so, he reveals who he truly is. In the same way, baptism, a sacrament making present God’s grace in the world, is a baptism into one’s true identity as a child of God, part of God’s family. I think what ought to be liberating, what ought to be good news, is that our dignity stands and falls not merely on some biological or evolutionary fact, but about something much stronger than that.
I think it is unfortunate that people forget the religious roots of the modern regime of human rights. I am thinking of course of the faith traditions that claim Abraham as an ancestral figure, especially the Christian faith. But it is good news to realize that the roots of my freedom is first of all that I was freed–not by my own merit or choice, but by a free gift–and that is where it all starts.

 

And next week, back to regular programming.

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