January 12, 2014/click on the left end of the black bar to play-pause
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Matthew 3: 13-17
Fr. George Smiga
All of us have had the experience of trying to accomplish something, trying to make something work. It might be a project that is very important to us. It might be a relationship that we are trying to find, or perhaps trying to heal. It could be a job that we are looking for or a fear that we are trying to overcome. Whatever we are trying to accomplish, here is a truth about the process. Sometimes we find that everything goes smoothly, that all the pieces fall into place. And other times we cannot make it work. Every move we make seems to be blocked. To put this in other terms, sometimes we succeed almost without trying, and other times success seems impossible. What we can conclude from this is that it takes more than our own best effort to reach success. Other factors are involved. The circumstances have to be receptive. The stars need to align. The timing has to be right.
Today’s readings accept this human truth about the importance of timing and then go on to enlarge it. The gospel today is a scene in which the timing is right. For thirty years Jesus lived a quiet life in Nazareth, but today in this scene at the Jordan after hearing the preaching of John, it becomes clear to Jesus that now is the time to act. Now the time was right to proclaim the good news of God’s Kingdom. What becomes clear in the baptism scene is that for Jesus the timing is not only the right timing, it is also God’s timing. This is why Jesus is successful in his ministry. Jesus is the son who is in sync with the Father. Because he is following God’s mission, because he is on God’s time line, he is able to achieve our salvation.
Now, Jesus is God’s servant and so are we. He is for us, then, a model of what our servant-hood should be. He shows us that God’s servant needs to be in touch with God’s timing. This why Isaiah in the first reading describes the servant of God as he does. In the reading, the servant of God acts, but he is no bully. He does not push his weight around. He does not raise his voice. He does not cry out in the street. He does not break a bruised reed. He will not quench a smoldering wick. The servant has a gentle touch, because the servant knows that he must always be testing to see whether God’s time is now. He or she knows that if it is not God’s time, no amount of force will lead to success. If it is God’s time, force will not be necessary.
The challenge for us is to be attuned to God’s timing. So, if there is a relationship that we are trying to find, or a hurt that we are trying to heal, the first thing we must ask is, “Should I act now or should I wait?” If there is a cause we want to take up or a fear we want to overcome, we must discern, “Do I try now, or should I try later?” Being God’s servant means that we do not need to raise our voice, we do not need to force the issue. We can act with the gentle touch because the important thing is for us to act in sync with God’s timing.
And here’s the good news! God already knows the good things in our life that we need and God has already chosen a moment in which to enable us to achieve them. Our role is to watch for that moment, to test regularly whether God’s time is now. Because when that moment comes, we, like Jesus at the Jordan, will hear the voice of God saying, “You are my beloved daughter. You are my beloved son. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to succeed.”