The Baptism of Christ comes just one week after the celebration of Epiphany, when the wise men honor the birth of the Christ-child, bestowing upon him precious gifts of gold and frankincense, as well as the heart-breaking gift of myrrh. One week.
Suddenly, we are thrust headlong into the beginning of Christ’s ministry. Gone are the days of innocence and sweetness, of Jesus sitting at the feet of Mary, of Joseph patiently teaching his son the skills of carpentry. These years are hidden from us, these formative years of the Son of God.
These are the years we like to call “being in the trenches”—when we roll out of bed at the first cries of the morning and somehow manage to get everyone dressed and fed, throw on some clothes, pass a brush through everyone’s hair, gulp our coffee, and start our day.
We cook and clean, we kiss hurts, both real and imagined, we instruct and admonish, and give and give until we think we may fall apart. And we absolutely do fall apart, only to get up and give some more.
And why is that? Why do we pour our hearts and souls into our children and family, into our vocation? Because we know the Truth. It is firmly rooted in our hearts and minds and continuously drives us on. That Truth is this: someone mightier than I is coming. We are not worthy to loosen the straps of his sandals, and yet we have been entrusted with these most precious souls. While we, in service to our family, baptize with water, we do so with the hope and expectation of the coming times when our children will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and live out their faith on their own.
Our lives and sacrifices are hidden, just like the Blessed Mother’s were. And much like John the Baptist, our vocation is clear—Prepare the way of the Lord. Make straight a path in the wilderness for our God. For the “trenches” are a type of wilderness. And indeed, these little toddlers somewhat resemble wild animals at times, no? (*grin*) And making straight the path in the lives of our teenagers is not for the faint of heart! But the hope is there, and it is what sustains us.
And our hope is this—that one mightier than I is coming. May we all be ready and eager to receive him.