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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Baptism of the Lord

The Savior saves us. Jesus is the One sent by the Father for the salvation of the world. The Word of the Father—everything the Father has to say to us, He entrusts to us in His Word. Through His Word, the Father wishes us to know that He loves us and does not want us to perish. His Word is life, and abundance of such life that this present life cannot contain it. Whoever believes in this Word possesses the life that the Father wants us to have. To be saved is to have this life, a life stronger than death. Jesus, the Beloved of the Father, unveils a glory that unaided reason cannot see. To behold this divine beauty is to stand before the source of every noble aspiration, everything worth living for, everything worth dying for. Joy and sorrow grip the soul all at once, and the heart cannot contain itself. The fulfillment of every desire and the only place where the heart might finally find its rest, His yearning for us, for all that the Father loves, has summoned us into existence and brought us before His saving gaze. In His gaze on us, the fullness of life that Christ Jesus gives holds captive every thought and orders all our affection anew—all the self-contradictions that threaten our integrity lose their claim before Him. He is never passive but tirelessly at work, accomplishing the Father's will, pouring forth salvific goodness in the midst of all the brokenness of the world, transforming everything, leaving nothing as it once was, establishing such peace that no power on earth, below or above can take it away. As He gazes, He speaks and His voice reverberates with saving harmonies. This living Word speaks not only with captivating words but mighty deeds—and by both word and deed, He pierces the heart and saves us from every evil. Nothing in this world can overcome Him and He has triumphed over all the adversaries and obstacles to human life. Not even the deep waters of death quenched His love for us. Indeed, He freely entered into those waters, obedient to the love of the Father, to save us and bring us home. The Word has entered the depth of the world to bring us to life. That we might possess this life, the Word was plunged into the chaotic abyss of human evil and the destructive powers of the cosmos. He entered not to allow these things to have their sway but to do battle. The suffering that Christ endured for us in this fight for our dignity reveals how much the Father grieves over the burden of guilt under which we struggle and how far God is willing to go that we might be finally free. The waters that threaten human dignity would drown us in an abyss of misery. No merely cerebral affair or feat of psychological prowess, His movement into the heart unveils hidden motives in which we would otherwise be engulfed. He climbs down into the gutters of hearts, plunges into the dark waters that have engulfed us, and seeking us, He does not rest until He finds us. He renders vulnerable one's whole being to the truth and baths away every false judgement. He raises up as a new creation every soul that would plunge into the mystery of His death with Him. We have done nothing to deserve such a gift. The Savior initiates this movement in our own freedom and freely brings it to completion. Through the most gentle immersion into the currents of our hearts, His flesh and blood presence evokes and strengthens this pure gift until it bears the fruit of eternal life.

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