On Baptism and Justice: Is the Lord Pleased with You?
Today’s first reading, taken from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, outlines what it means for God to say of Jesus Christ “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:7-11); and, in turn, for what it might mean for God to say of us, those who are “adopted sons and daughters of God” because of Christ Jesus. Justice stands at the heart of what it is that pleases God. But justice should not be confused with vengeance or with some individual outlook shaped by a quid pro quo mentality. The justice God seeks is the justice found in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and made manifest in the life, ministry and preaching of Jesus Christ.
Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. (Is 42:1-4, 6-7)
Although Jesus’s Baptism is categorically different from our own, that which pleases God is not. How is it that we seek to free those imprisoned and offer light to those who live in darkness? Do we strive to make the world a more just place or do we simply seek to make ourselves more secure, comfortable and unaffected by others?
Is God well pleased with you?