Contemplating the Baptism of Jesus
Alexander, Andy, S.J.
Waldron, Maureen McCann
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Text from the first four paragraphs of "Contemplating the Baptism of Jesus"The olives on the trees were not yet ready for harvest. There were things I could do around the orchard but I was restless. I told my wife I would go into town for a little while but I was reluctant, almost embarrassed to tell her why. I had heard that John, son of Zechariah, would be preaching and baptizing along the river today. The whole region was talking about "John the Baptizer" and crowds had been following him from town to town. My wife is a good woman and I am not unhappy in my life, but lately I have had stirrings in my heart that I don't understand. Something has seemed empty, waiting. It sounds odd to say it aloud - and who would understand such things? But it seems I even hear the scriptures with a deeper awareness these days. I know that our people have been longing for a savior since the time of our ancestors. We know he will come. But when? Somehow all of these feelings I can't describe have brought me here to the banks of the Jordan.At the river, scores of people sit along the bank, stand on the hill or line up in the waters, awaiting their baptism. "Come clean! Be baptized in the waters," John calls out to the crowd. "Be forgiven!" John is a riveting sight with his quiet intensity, his camel skin garb and his wild hair flying in so many directions. I let myself down onto an un-crowded section of the river bank next to a man about my own age who gives me a welcoming nod as I join him. We let the water flow over our feet as we watch the commotion. Dozens of people have waded into the water in front of John. As each person approaches, he speaks to them quietly, prays over them and helps them drop into the water and back up.