As we celebrate the Baptism of Our Lord today, you will notice a new name at the end of the “Dear Parishioner” letter. Sr Marie McDonald is the Leader of the community of Sisters of the Missionaries of Our Lady Africa who live in the parish and play an active role both spiritually and pastorally in the life of the parish.
I would like to thank Sr Marie for putting down on paper for us her thoughts and reflection on today’s readings.
A very warm welcome to her as the first of our guest writers of the “Dear Parishioner” letter. More to come! Many thanks to her for allowing us to benefit from her vast experience, thoughts and reflections on our gospel. As you will see Sr Marie’s reflection opens up for us a new and broader perspective which will help to enrich our own reflections on the Word of God on this wonderful feast!
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very blessed and safe year ahead. And May the Lord hold you in his care and protect you all during this very challenging time and year ahead.
God bless and Take care!
Fr Ambrose OSB PP
Dear Parishioner Letter
Some years ago a Ugandan friend was teaching me how to pronounce her name. It was quite difficult but at last I got it right and then I asked her if her name had a meaning. She told me that it meant “the Usual.” She was the third girl to be born to her parents – born while her father was away on business. When he returned he entered the family home with a question mark on his face… her mother looked at him, shrugged, and said “The Usual” and that became her name. Not surprisingly she grew up believing herself to be nothing special and even a disappointment to her parents because she was not the boy they had hoped for.
In many African tribes names are important. They tell us something about the person – either the situation they were born into or the way the parents feel about this baby. In the time of Jesus names were also important. The Angel told Zechariah that his son should be called “John” signifying that a change was taking place. This name meant “God is Benevolent” The name Jesus was also decreed. Jesus means Saviour. Jesus always knew that he had a very special relationship with God whom he related to as a Son to a Father but, to the people of Nazareth where he grew up and where he spent 30 years of his life, he must have seemed very ordinary.
In today’s Gospel we find him among the crowd of disciples listening attentively to his cousin John – clearly a most unusual character! – We don’t know very much from Scripture about those 30 years which are known as the “hidden life” but now a change is about to take place! Jesus presents himself to John for Baptism… John’s Baptism was a Baptism of repentance, of purification and Jesus had no need of either but in presenting himself he took the place of all of us – of the sinful human race. As he stepped forward and asked John to baptise him he was responding to the Spirit of God moving him towards his destiny; his Mission. His time had come.
God “took him by the hand” (Is. 42.6 ) and after the Baptism showed himself in the form of a dove descending on Jesus and the voice which said “ This is my Son the Beloved” Just as he took our place as sinners needing purification he invites us to take his place with him as the Beloved children of the Father..
John Paul 11, quoting Revelations 2: 1, l tells us that while at birth we all receive a name from our parents, we have another name which is the name by which God the Father knows and loves us. It is the name we shall be known by for all eternity. Jesus learned after the Baptism that his name is “my Son the BELOVED!”
God takes all of us by the hand and guides us to share in his mission as a “covenant of the people and light of the nations “(Isaiah) Through our baptism into Jesus we are all very special – unique and beloved and given a special task or mission in the mission of the Beloved Son.
My friend “the Usual” learned as she grew older that she too is beloved and unique and that she too, like all of us, has a unique and special name and task to which she is called. She knows now that she is not “the Usual” but unique, special, beloved and called to be part of the Mission of Jesus. On this great feast of the Baptism of Jesus may we ask the grace to discover our Divine name and the way we are called to take part in the Mission of Jesus.