(Adults, you could begin by lighting a candle and reading the Word of God to your child. Alternatively, you could read the first paragraph of the reflection, then proclaim the Word, then return to the reflection.)
After weeks of preparing and celebrating the feast of the Light coming in the world, we have now returned to Ordinary Time. Now the church changes the colour to green. In many parts of the world, snow covers the ground; there is no green. When we finally see green poking though the snow and green beginning to cover the bare branches of trees, we know spring is coming. Things are growing. Ordinary Time is a good time for growing—growing in God. When we hear about Jesus this Sunday, he is all grown up. He has just been baptized the previous day by his cousin, John. John the Baptist tells us about it.
The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! ...I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.”
It sounds like John the Baptist has been surprised by Jesus, surprised by God. He had not know that his very own cousin would be the One to take away the sin of the world. All John the Baptist knew was that God wanted him to baptize in order to reveal the One. And John the Baptist said yes. Now Jesus is revealed.
John the Baptist continues:
“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him.”
That word "remain" is interesting. All the Gospel writers tell about Jesus' baptism. All of them talk about the Spirit descending like a dove. But only this Gospel account mentions that the Spirit remains on him. Not only that, but his Gospel account tells us that God uses the word "remain," too:
“I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’”
The word "remain" means "to stay." The Holy Spirit stays with Jesus.
Another word for remain is "abide," which means "to make a home." The Holy Spirit comes down on Jesus and makes a home in him.
We know that it is the Holy Spirit who begins Jesus' life inside of Mary. The angel Gabriel says, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God’ (Luke 1:35). So the Holy Spirit is already with Jesus in some way since before he is born. But at the moment of his baptism, the Holy Spirit comes to Jesus in a most particular way. The Holy Spirit makes a home in him.
This moment, this making a home, affects Jesus very strongly. At the Last Supper, Jesus tells us the Parable of the True Vine. "I am the vine, you are the branches," he says. In this parable, he uses the word "remain" or "abide" eleven times! It must be his favourite word! If Jesus repeats this word so many times, it must be important. He says,
Remain in me as I remain in you. (John 15:4)
Jesus makes his home in us, and he wants us to make our home in him.
How do we do this? How can we make a home in him?
It has already begun. Like Jesus, we are baptized. Although the Holy Spirit may have been with us since before we were born, at the moment of our baptism the Holy Spirit comes to us in a most particular way. From Jesus, the Holy Spirit flows to each of us. We are connected. We have our home in him.
And who lives together in a home?
Apparently, we are family :)