The Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ
Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640
The Baptism of Christ Ottavio Vannini, c. 1640

From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop
The baptism of Christ
Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.
John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly he comes to bury sinful humanity in the waters. He comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.
The Baptist protests; Jesus insists. Then John says: I ought to be baptized by you. He is the lamp in the presence of the sun, the voice in the presence of the Word, the friend in the presence of the Bridegroom, the greatest of all born of woman in the presence of the firstborn of all creation, the one who leapt in his mother’s womb in the presence of him who was adored in the womb, the forerunner and future forerunner in the presence of him who has already come and is to come again. I ought to be baptized by you: we should also add, “and for you,” for John is to be baptized in blood, washed clean like Peter, not only by the washing of his feet.
Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him. The heavens like Paradise with its flaming sword, closed by Adam for himself and his descendants, are rent open. The Spirit comes to him as to an equal, bearing witness to his Godhead. A voice bears witness to him from heaven, his place of origin. The Spirit descends in bodily form like the dove that so long ago announced the ending of the flood and so gives honor to the body that is one with God.
Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received – though not in its fullness – a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.

Via divine office.org

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By Your Presence

You, by Your Presence, O Lord,
Are Light to my darkness.
You are the kiss upon my brow,
The oil upon my head,
The arms of sweet embrace,
The banner over my heart.

You, All Love,
Bless this child of Your magnificent
And magnanimous Mercy.
Day by day.
I find You all about me.

Flowers and fields,
Spread before me
As a welcoming blanket.
Come rest awhile, You invite.
I come and I delight.

©2011 Joann Nelander

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Cry of One Forgiven

How can I thank You
For Your forgiveness,
For that moment,
In which You scattered
My accusers,
And took my part?

As I looked up
From the mud of my despair,
Your majestic countenance
Was all.
You loomed before me,
Brighter than the Sun.

Who could have imagined
Such grandeur?
You wore holiness like a crown
That more than circled Your brow.
Rather, it emanated,
As light from Your Being,
Announcing Who You are?

Only humility can receive You,
And dare Your gaze.
For Your Eyes
Pierce the soul,
Revealing all.

Only those crying for a Savior
Dare look up,
To confess with that glance
Their fault and nakedness,
Helpless and all pleading.

Only the thirsty
Can drink in the majesty
Of Your knowing.
For pride is the travesty,
That hides,
For fear of revelation.

That moment shattered my fear
And rent the clouds of all my life.
Taking proffered Hand,
I rise to my feet
Then, as now, again,

Light embraces me
As my rags fall to my feet.
In their place
Love has woven a mantle,
A robe of Being,
That more than clothes me.

It is a signal grace,
That names me,
With it, You announce
To all Creation
Who I am in You.

My "Yes" reverberates
Throughout the Universe.
I am new,
Like a star at its birth,
Bursting forth
With Your Holiness;
Baptized in Your Redemption.

How can I thank You
For Your forgiveness,
O, You, Who took my part?
Go now,
In search of my accusers.

Copyright 2011 Joann Nelander

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