The baptism of the Lord!
We have arrived at the celebration of theophany or the Baptism of the Lord ! Some see this as the last day of Christmas but others see Christmas as continuing on to Candlemas, which is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2.
“During Christmas of 1919, G.K. Chesterton left his home in Beaconsfield, and traveled backward through time to the place where Christmas began. His 1920 book, The New Jerusalem, is a philosophical travelogue of his journey across Europe, across the desert, to Palestine.– Dale Ahlquist, Lecture 35: The New Jerusalem.
He says in fell in love with Jerusalem at first sight. He found there the whole history of the world, the place where east truly meets west. Interestingly enough, he arrived during an utterly rare event in that land: snow. Chesterton thought of it as “the triumph of Christmas.”
“It was in the season of Christmas that I came out of my little garden in that “field of the beeches” between the Chilterns and the Thames, and began to walk backwards through history to the place from which Christmas came. For it is often necessary to walk backwards, as a man on the wrong road goes back to a sign-post to find the right road. The modern man is more like a traveller who has forgotten the name of his destination, and has to go back whence he came, even to find out where he is going. That the world has lost its way few will now deny; and it did seem to me that I found at last a sort of sign-post, of a singular and significant shape, and saw for a moment in my mind the true map of the modern wanderings; but whether I shall be able to say anything of what I saw, this story must show.” – G. K. Chesterton, The Way of The Cities, The New Jerusalem, 1919
As we walk backwards in time through our Christmas journey in reflection this year, let us remember our real destination in these difficult days ahead: heaven and to be with the Lord. We will be called to face the unbeliever and betrayer alike even in the Church. Some of us already have. Remember that Christ warned of such and the Book of Jude features 3 archetypes: Cain, Korah and Balaam who would betray their brothers in Christ.
But God will be with us through it all as he stands between the intersection of Heaven and Earth. When we meet both friend and foe, let us remember our own baptism and the three states in which we are called under our priestly class to reflect Jesus – as priests, prophets and kings and minister as such in our laity state:
As “priests” we can praise God and pray for those around us. Our boss, our employees, our clients, our friends, our family. All who God brings across our path.
As “prophets” we can preach and tell others of the Good News of Jesus Christ and all the things He commanded us. We can remind each other in strong love and urgency to obey the Lord, caring as much for their salvation as our own ( 2 Tim 4:2)
As “kings” we can lead others to Christ and set the example in acts of holy conduct. (2 Peter 3:11)
When Jesus was baptized by John, all the water of the Earth become holy. We are blessed by those waters because He came to John and said:
“Let it be so now,” Jesus replied. “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness in this way.”
The amazing paradox of divinity and humanity of “the incredible Christ” fascinated Chesterton and his fascination rested upon the incredible point that we were included in it! That spirit and man could meet and that it could be experienced together in the flesh was indeed a miracle. In both his The Everlasting Man and The Thing, written within four years of each, he describes this.
THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
“In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove, and a voice came from heaven; “Thou art my beloved Son, with thee I am well pleased.”
“For it was the soul of Christendom that came forth from the incredible Christ; and the soul of it was common sense. Though we dared not look on His face we could look on His fruits; and by His fruits we should know Him. The fruits are solid and the fruitfulness is much more than a metaphor; and nowhere in this sad world are boys happier in apple-trees, or men in more equal chorus singing as they tread the vine, than under the fixed flash of this instant and intolerant enlightenment; the lightning made eternal as the light.” – G. K. Chesterton, Conclusion, The Everlasting Man, 1925
THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
“The man of this philosophy is always asking that worship shall be wholly spiritual, or even wholly intellectual; because he does really feel a disgust at the idea of spiritual things having a body and a solid form. It probably does really give him a mystical shudder to suppose that God can become as bread and wine; though I never understood why it should not give the same shudder to say that God could become flesh and blood.” – G.K. Chesterton, Inge Versus Barnes, The Thing, 1929