José Antonio Pagola, reflecting on today’s Gospel in Following in the Footsteps of Jesus, asks a important question: “What is the ‘spirit’ that animates us today as followers of Jesus?”
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. When he went down into the Jordan River, the Spirit came upon Jesus and the Father affirmed Him as His beloved Son.
Then Jesus went up out of the river and proceeded to live his mission.
As today’s first reading, Isaiah 42: 1-7, notes: he was called for the victory of justice.
We, as followers of this Jesus, are also “called to the victory of justice.”
This justice – also translated as righteousness – is not simply a clamoring for rights in the streets, making a lot of noise. It is a call for a right relationship with God and with all people – and, I’d add, with all creation. It is both holiness and social justice, loving God and neighbor.
What is the spirit that moves us in our lives? Is it the spirit of demanding my rights, shouting out against others who “sin,” proclaiming a triumphal church?
Or is it the spirit of solidarity with the poor of the earth? Is it like the solidarity of God who became flesh in Jesus?
Yes, we are called to the victory of justice, but in a way that loves and respects others, not breaking the bruised reed, and that goes about “doing good,” that announces the Good News of peace, as Peter told Cornelius in Acts 10: 34-38.
Is this Spirit of Love, Peace, Justice, and doing good what animates us?
That’s a good question for the beginning of what the Church calls “ordinary time.”