Insurrection is Most Holy God undergoing a baptism
of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
This feast of the Baptism of the Lord, January 10, 2021, is our first day of Sunday worship since a violent horde of insurrectionists broke into the Capitol of the U.S.A. to overturn a just and legal governmental process.
They tried to stop Congress and the Vice President from fulfilling the Constitutional process of confirming the election of a new President.
They bludgeoned a police officer, killing him.
One insurrectionist was shot as she tried to break through a door inside the Capitol, and three others also died of various causes.
Insurrectionists are already discussing plans to arm themselves for other violent actions in these days leading up to and including the inauguration of the new President on January 20.
We followers of Christ carry all of that in our hearts and minds as we come to Mass to meet the Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God as he receives the baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins from St. John the Baptist in the Jordan.
Holy, Holy, Holy Christ Lord God receiving a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins!
He has no need to repent, but we do.
He has never sinned and never will, while he have sinned, do sin and go on sinning.
At his Baptism, the merited roles of right and wrong, holiness and sin, guilt and innocence, God and the world all turn upside down and backwards.
This is a feast of insurrection, subversion, revolution, and it is an epiphany.
The Gospels show us his birth, a few incidents from his infancy, his Jerusalem pilgrimage when he was twelve, but nothing else until he was about thirty years of age.
Suddenly, then, the Gospels show him going to the Jordan River to heed needlessly, even unfittingly, St. John’s penitential call.
Seeing Christ come to him, John cried out: Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sins of the world!
Christ was neither alone nor the first there.
Many of God’s people had answered already, repenting, turning their thoughts and ways, their lives, back to love of God and neighbor.
But it was precisely in the midst and sight of willfully REPENTANT men and women that Christ fully grown chose to begin his mission.
Let’s mark that well: Christ looks for us, comes close, shows himself and joins himself to us precisely in our repentance.
Then he offers an epiphany.
Heaven tears open, and two things come out of it.
First: the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove coming down upon Christ.
And then a Fatherly voice speaking of his Child: my beloved … I am well pleased with you.
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: this is history’s first epiphany of the Trinity in sight and sound for earthly flesh of men and women to hear and see.
Heaven has torn open over us to let us know we have always been beloved to God as sons and daughters.
When we repent of sin we open ourselves to hear God’s pleasure and to have the Spirit of oneness with God shelter us under its wings as God the Son takes upon himself the guilt of our sins from the water of our repentance.
This Jordan River epiphany is also the mystery of every Mass, every celebration of worship and salvation in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ.
We begin the Mass with a repentance rite, a Penitential Act.
The Father’s voice then comes to us in the Liturgy of the Word.
Then the Holy Spirit rushes down to reveal the Son in Body and Blood on earth with us.
And John the Baptist’s testimony at the Jordan River echoes again in our midst: Behold the Lamb of God; behold him who takes away the sins of the world!
As we eat the Body of God’s Son, Christ the Lamb, and drink his Blood, Christ pours upon himself and into himself the guilt of our sins from the water of our repentance, and the Spirit of Holy Communion with God shelters us.
Our repentance opens us to all of that in the Father’s love and good pleasure that have neither beginning nor end.
Let that be the true insurrection within us.
Turn. Love. Repeat.