Reading: Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

Reflection: It must have been tempting for John to accept the praise and devotion of the crowds. For a short moment he was the center of attention for large numbers of people, and they began to wonder whether he might be the one they’d been waiting for. I wonder whether their speculative comments got into John’s heart at all. I wonder whether he ever questioned if he’d misunderstood God’s call and if they might have been right. If so, there is no sign of it in today’s reading.

Rather, we see John making a clear declaration that the one to come would be far greater than he. He could only baptize with water, but the Coming One would offer a baptism unlike any they had ever known – a baptism, an immersion, in God’s Spirit and God’s purifying fire. Then, when Jesus came, John happily withdrew into the background, knowing that his job was done. John’s baptism was one of repentance and forgiveness.

It seems strange that Jesus would choose to receive such a baptism, but again there was a clear message in this simple act. Jesus had not come to rise over humanity, or to rule the people around him. Jesus had not come to be separate from humanity and their experience – even their sin. Instead, Jesus came to stand with us, alongside us, and to identify wholly with us, so that we would know that God was not distant from us.

Also, Jesus came to show us that we would be called to share in all that he came to do, and so the power that was available to him – God’s Spirit – would also be available to us. How can you learn today from John’s humility and clear sense of call, and from Jesus’ companionship and gift of God’s Spirit?

Practice for Today: “Come, Holy Spirit” is a simple but powerful prayer. It invites the Spirit of God to guide and direct us, to strengthen and purify us. It’s not that God’s Spirit is not with us unless we pray this prayer. It’s that, in praying like this, we open our awareness to recognize the presence and power of God’s Spirit. Go through today with this prayer on your lips and in your heart and be ready to receive a new sense of God’s presence and power.

Prayer for Today: Come, Holy Spirit.