Today’s Gospel can be summed up in this simple way: ‘Jesus is special!’ What makes him special is the Spirit’s coming down upon him. Let this scene from today’s Gospel play in our imagination.
First, let us see the encounter between the two. What is John’s life like now that he is has met Messiah? What are his emotions as Jesus is approaching for his baptism? ‘Seeing Jesus coming towards him, John said, “Look, there is the lamb of God!...I saw the Spirit coming down on him”!’ Imagine John’s joy! Is not this the same joy, which Elisabeth shared with Mary, when she visited her? ‘My child has leapt in joy in my womb’. Now this joy is felt again by John. The difference is that now, with an adult mind, he gives expression to this joy. Now he is fully aware of its meaning. John was able to recognise what Jesus meant for him and the world, because of his preparation for this very encounter.
Let this joy plain in our imagination and become a reflection in our coming week. If you were John, how would you prepare and mature your mind to be able to recognise Jesus – whenever he comes unexpectedly. Is Jesus special in your life?
Second, John invites us to explore in what sense Jesus is special. Now imagine what Jesus is like in this scene. Can we see in him the special joy that he came to us? Can we perceive the goodness in his heart for all of us? Can we join John’s faith and believe that his heart goes out to everyone? Imagine the outpouring beauty in this heart, which only we, Christians can see.
‘Yes, I have seen, and I am the witness that he is the Chosen One of God’, says John. He knows that from that moment, after his baptism, Jesus will heal us. He will heal the lepers, the broken hearted, those who are stricken with sorrow or are refused by others. Hold the image of the hovering dove above him. In the movement of the wings, the heartbeats of Jesus, his goodness for us is expressed. His heart goes out to all of us. When we listen to these ‘heartbeats’, we understand our call. ‘Christians are called to develop a heart like Jesus’ - a heart that goes out to people who are suffering. In today’s holy communion, as a community, we might want to ask Christ to help us to develop a heart like his, that feels compassion, that eagerly seeks to reach out and help.’ (Pray-as-you-go 16 January entry)
Why living this meditation, and putting it into practice is so important? Let the following quote challenge and motive us. ‘The world does not listen to the Church, it no longer listens to us; for Christians don’t speak out.’ Listen to the sound of the Spirit’s wings above the goodness of your heart. Our task is so obvious, isn’t it?
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..