By Brian Niemiec
I’ve never written a blog post before. I don’t really know where to start. Br. Matt said that I should write about Baptism, since, well, we are celebrating the Baptism of our Lord today. And so I’ve been thinking about what I want to say, and I can’t think of anything. I mean, it’s the Lord’s Baptism. Enough said.
I’m reading this book, Forming Intentional Disciples, by Sherry Weddell. It’s pretty good, even though I’m only fifty pages into it. She told this one story to highlight that many Catholics, even those of us involved as ministers in the church, do not have a relationship with God. Sure, they go to mass, say their prayers, and believe the teachings and creedal formulas of the Church, but they don’t really talk to God.
I find that extraordinary. Not because my relationship with God is great. Trust me, Jesus and I have plenty of rough patches. I am currently in the “we had real quality time during Advent and Christmas, but now Jesus and I need some time apart” dry spell. I figure that rough patches are part of any relationship, and you have to push through them. Plus, I know if I don’t, the Holy Spirit will give me a swift kick in the &#@.
But having a relationship with God is what Jesus is all about. Even at the Baptism, Jesus and the Father are so close that the Father makes a cameo: “This is my beloved son; listen to him.” Now I’m still waiting for God and me to get on that level, but I’m sure we’ll get there someday.
It’s funny how this Gospel passage – which is used as one of the transitions into Jesus’ active adult ministry – focuses so much on relationship. If I was Jesus, I would want my baptism to have a bit more flare: river water into wine, bread from heaven for everyone, or maybe even a healing or two… but I suppose that comes later.
First came the relationship, revealed at Baptism, and it’s the same for us. Before we receive the Eucharist, learn the Creed by heart, and go out and serve the poor, we have to learn how to talk and listen to God. Sacraments, tradition, prayer, and of course the many ministers, ordained and lay, that walk with us on our journey with Christ are all there to assist in the most fundamental aspect of what it means to be a Catholic. Jesus gave us the Church to help us build our relationship with God, and allow that relationship to change how we live our lives.
I’m still not sure how blogs are supposed to go, so you probably won’t hear that much from me in the months ahead. But, who knows, when Jesus and I get back from our mid-winter solitude, I may have some more things to say.