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16150 St. Anthony Rd.
Emmitsburg, MD. 21727
Phone: 301-447-2367


Plunged into a New Life Filled with Hope

Rev. Paul V. Redmond
Professor Emeritus
Mount St. Mary's University

(01-10-10) Through the years you and I have grown silently but deeply in realizing the role that the virtue of HOPE- plays in our lives. Both in the movies and in fiction the virtue of HOPE becomes a striking theme. Consider the great escape of Edmund Dantes in Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo. Closer to our own time Stephen King in his fine novella, The Shawshank Redemption, strikingly shines the light of his talents on the virtue of hope. Andy Dufresne in King's novella and in the movie version is an innocent man accused and imprisoned for murdering his wife. For nineteen years he chisels a passage through the cell walls and finally swims through the prison sewer system. He changes his prison garb for a new suit and makes his way to a beach in Mexico. His was a type of "baptism" to a new life.

The virtue of hope sustained him as it has sustained immigrants from Mexico and Central America who have risked their lives to cross the Rio Grande into the United States. Our own emergence into "new life" was less dramatic and not broken in pain. We express our thanks today for the gift of everlasting life that we received in our "baptism". Through the years we have been graced with the virtue of hope that we can witness to others whatever may be expected of us as daughter and sons of Abba, our Father and as sisters and brothers of Jesus, our Lord and our Brother.

Today we pause in wonderment at the Baptism of Jesus. We wonder: Just what brought him to the river Jordan to be baptized? Baptism was thought to be for sinners---but why should Jesus be baptized?

Recall that the parents of Jesus were observant Jews. They taught him that God was the Father-the Abba of Israel. Jesus took that personally. On his customary annual pilgrimages to the temple in Jerusalem, he became increasingly aware that God's business was his business. As a maturing teen ager he grew in deep compassion for the sufferings of his people. He must have heard about the spellbinding prophet, John the Baptist. Perhaps he even thought that he, Jesus, might become John's follower.

In his gospel Matthew expresses a brief dialogue between Jesus and John. John had preached a "baptism of the remission of sins." He now protests his baptizing Jesus. It is hard for you and me to understand why Jesus who is without sin asked John for such a baptism. It may well be that Jesus was aware of a sinful world in need for God's pardon and thus requested baptism from John. Jesus mentions that it was the plan of his Father, the Lord Adonai, to fulfill all justice, to save the human race. He then received a "baptism of repentance:". . . for our sins. In this shining moment a "voice from heaven"-that of the Lord Adonai-proclaims Jesus as his beloved Son.

This was the "Inauguration Day" of Jesus. The Lord Adonai (God the Father) gave his public seal of approval to the mission and ministry of his Son. . . . "You are my beloved Son. In you I am well pleased." (Mark 1:11) As the glory of the Lord Adonai had rested first on Sinai and later in the temple at Jerusalem as his dwelling place, so now the glory of the Lord descends on Jesus as he breaks through the surface of the water. Jesus is henceforth the place of God's glory and power.

In his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict points out that "Jesus begins his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners." Jesus' descent into the water anticipates the Cross; the voice from heaven which proclaims Jesus as the Lord Adonai's favorite Son and Servant is a foreshadowing of the resurrection of Jesus.

From his "Inauguration Day" onward Jesus belongs to us as our Brother and Redeemer. He teaches us to pray to his Father as our Father. He spends his entire life in trying to show and share the challenges and consequences of what it means to live his life as one who is loved by the Father.

Just as the baptism of Jesus was the starting point for his public ministry, so does our baptism prepare you and me to witness Jesus to others. That is our mission. Energized by the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we have the power to do so.

My prayer for you is to become more deeply aware that God is ever in love with you. In your lifelong effort in seeking the face of God in your own life and in the lives of those you serve, may you fall more deeply and irrevocably in love with God. He first loves us before we can love him. May each of you in your uniqueness one day hear the Father's voice: "You are my beloved daughter, my beloved son. I am delighted in you."

Read other homilies by Father Paul