Water, the material of baptism, is a powerful symbol, and one of our most powerful experiences. What are your memories of water? When I visited Arthur (video-conversation during the lockdown) this week-end, he became most alive when he talked about his Island, back in the Caribbean's. ‘It is a small place, but the sea, and its water is beautiful.’
Personally, my two earliest memories are about water. When I was four, I was playing in the yard of my grandparents. I remember, suddenly, without any reason (it was a heatwave?) I fainted and lost consciousness. Still, I saw my parents rushing to me, in desperation. My father run with me to the well, and then, I remember, that slowly, which seemed to be an eternity, the cold water brought me back to life. It was life giving. The other early memory is from the same place. In the old days my grandparents stored the water in blue, metallic water cans. I remember how much I enjoyed drinking the cool fresh water from its cup. As a child, in the break of playing, it was such a delight? What are your positive memories of life-giving water?
We raise this question for an important reason. For these positive memories, in a mysterious way, are connected to Jesus’ baptism. Water is always life-giving, refreshing, and purifying. It is not accidental, that water is the so called ‘material element’ of the sacrament of Baptism. The invisible grace of God is expressed through this visible sign. Our memories, related to the water of Life, is important. Through them we understand that the events of our lives are expressions of God’s providence. They are ‘visible signs’ of his grace - similarly than in the case of the sacraments. Our life is always sacred, and connected to the very source of the Sacred, God’s glory itself.
What about Jesus’ memories of water? As his participation of our lives. Our Lord always took delight in water. Think of the wedding feast of Cana, when he changed the water into wine. Or, when the stormy Galilean-sea obeyed him. He walked on water. He invited the first disciples at the lakeside. He was baptised in the water of River Jordan. It was at this water when his public ministry started in joy, and the Holy Spirit descended on him when he emerged from the water. What a beautiful memory it must have been for Jesus.
Today, on the Feast of our Lord’s Baptism, let us rejoice in the life-giving power of the water of our baptism. Jesus sanctified it, and our baptism washed away our sins, and we became the children of God again. Let us recall the joyful moments of our faith, the gifts of life that we enjoyed as Christians. Friendship, the birth of children in our families, our work. Let us try to see all these gifts as stemming from our baptismal water; and Jesus’ baptism for all of us.
Let it be, however, more than a nostalgic retrospection. Let us admit to God our thirst for the Water of Life. More than ever, we need a healing water, which brings peace, safety, and joy amidst our present anxieties. The Baptism of the Lord is a powerful reminder of how dependent we are on His healing power. Let us renew our commitment: Lord, the world needs you more than ever. Make us servants of your healing arrival.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..