This weekend’s celebration of the baptism of Jesus brings us to the end of the Christmas season. It is a weekend of transition and change. As we take down the Christmas decorations and store away our Christmas “stuff,” there is an important question to ask in all this putting away of Christmas. Are you and I also putting on the shelf the spiritual and human gifts that we have treasured these weeks of Christmas and New Year’s?

Perhaps a relationship has been strengthened or a conversation with someone has kindled a new friendship or healed some hurt within our family circle. Could it be that God’s grace has given us new resolve, new possibility, new hope to move forward with a decision or project? However the gifts and graces of Christmas have stretched and renewed us personally, it is important that all of this grace and energy does not get hidden on some shelf deep down in our hearts.

It is precisely here that the Baptism of Jesus becomes important. This feast marks the moment when Jesus emerged from the relative quiet of his Nazareth routine. He becomes a more public figure. He accepts his mission as Redeemer and Messiah as he begins his ministry of teaching and healing, even as others only gradually come to understand what this acceptance means in the concrete.

The feast of the Baptism marks our personal incorporation into the community of the Church. It says publicly that you and I will walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. We will drink the cup that he drank. We will accept the inevitable dyings and risings of our own lives throughout the coming year with all the grace and insight and love that Jesus has taught us. The truth is that, where Jesus has gone before us, you and I are called to follow. As we believe, so let us live—steadfast in faith, joyful in hope, untiring in love!

—The Jesuit Prayer Team