The Church is called to reflect Jesus outside of church
An 80-year-old woman just had gotten married for the fourth time. Someone asked her what her different husbands did for a living. She said she married a banker in her 20s. She married a circus ringmaster in her 40s. She married a preacher in her 60s.
Now, at 80 years old, she had married a funeral director. She explained: "I married one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go."
At his baptism, it is Jesus' time to go. Baptism is also our time to go. The Old Testament relates the practice of anointing leaders with oil as a sign of their being given power by the Spirit to do their God-appointed tasks.
This is done specifically for prophets, priests and kings. Jesus is the fulfillment of these Old Testament offices. He is the Anointed One; the anticipated Prophet, Priest and King. We see Jesus, at his baptism, being anointed by the Holy Spirit, who descends in the form of a dove.
In the Book of Acts, we read Jesus is anointed to do good. We read in the prophets he establishes justice, he renews the covenant with humankind, he is light for the nations, and he brings healing.
All this and more is tied up in Jesus' ministry as God's anointed one. His baptism is his commissioning to go and do this ministry. It is time for him to go.
Similarly, baptism is our time to go. Different Christian groups have different understandings of baptism. If there is agreement, it can be found in the understanding baptism is about following Jesus. Baptism is understood in connection with an intentional living out of God's call to continue the work of Jesus in our own time and place by the power of the Holy Spirit. Some see baptism as the beginning point of this calling. Others see baptism as the response to this calling. It can be argued baptism is both.
Therefore, our baptism is understood in terms of the call to follow Jesus. We are to reflect the face of Jesus to the world. We are to be about the things he was about in his ministry. We are to work for justice. We are to be light in the darkness. We are to be instruments of God's healing. We are to do good. We do this ministry where we work, play and live.
Holiness is not about how we look at church, but how we look when we're not at church.
In conclusion, there are hundreds of Christians gathered in churches in our community each weekend. Hundreds of Christians are sent out into the community each weekend on a mission to be a reflection of the face of Jesus.
The presence of Jesus is reaching into every area of our community through these Christians. This must have an impact.
Think how much greater the impact if we Christians become more intentional about living out what is indicated in our baptism.
The important moment is not when it's time to come to church, but when it's time to go.
Deacon Scott Watford is pastoral associate at St. Nicholas of Myra Catholic Church.