Friday, January 7, 2022

May the Dove Descend Upon You

 "On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him  And a voice came from the heavens, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased."
- Mark 1:10-11

    Imagine going in for a procedure and the doctor telling you "I haven't been trained as a surgeon and I just got whatever tools I could get my hands on for your procedure, but I'll do my best to save your life."  It's not going to give you confidence in the doctor, nor is that doctor going to feel confident in what he is doing.  You're very likely to leave without getting anything done, afraid to place your life in their hands.  Going into anything without guidance, training, or the proper tools we need makes it difficult to properly endure and complete any task proficiently.  Although some may be able to figure it out, it's not without mistakes, failures, trial and error that we learn the right way to do something.  We falter, some give up.  There is frustration and anger and the insecurity of not knowing whether or not we are even capable.  Our spirituality is no different

    Jesus' baptism was revelatory as it was the moment He became known to the world.  He was baptized by John in the Jordan River, the gates of heaven were opened, and the Spirit came down like a dove.  It was only after His baptism that Jesus began His ministry; driven into the desert to fast and was tempted by the devil, gained His first disciples, began preaching in Galilee, performed His first miracle at the wedding in Cana, and exorcised one possessed evil.  Let us think for a moment, though.  

    John himself felt that he was "not worthy to carry" or "loosen the thongs of his sandals".  He questioned Jesus saying "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?"  Yet, Jesus chose to be Baptized, allowing the gates of heaven be opened and the Holy Spirit to descend upon Him.  If Jesus, who it was revealed in this moment as the Son of God, needed the Holy Spirit upon Him to start His mission, what more do we need the Spirit within us, guiding us, giving us the tools to overcome the adversity of the world we live in, especially during these trying times?

    The word baptism comes from the Greek baptizein which means to "immerse" or "plunge" (CCC 1214). We are plunged and buried in the death of Christ and born into the a new life, regenerated and renewed by the Holy Spirit. Jesus himself was reborn into a new life, leaving behind the home He had always known and going on His mission set forth by His Father in heaven. 

    With anything in life, there are challenges.  Jesus was not freed from the challenges and the burdens.  In fact His were greater than the weight we carry ourselves.   From being rejected in his own homeland, the temptations of the devil, the challenges and questionings he faced repeatedly during His earthly ministry, to the betrayal, the false accusations, the torture, the mockery, the denial, until His death.  All of that He endured with the Spirit within Him.
    This is best stated by Cale Clarke in the article where he shows how baptism is in fact more than just for the forgiveness of sins: 

    Christian baptism is of course greater than John’s baptism, even as Jesus himself is far greater than John (Matt. 3:14, John 3:30). Christian baptism not only forgives sins, but infuses the life of God into the soul, making us God’s children. And the origin of this sacrament is Jesus’ own baptism. Jesus had no need to be cleansed by the waters of baptism, for he had no sins to be washed away. Rather, he sanctified the waters by his descent into them.

    We as Christians are also not freed from the burdens and challenges.  Sometimes we feel it even more because we can see the truths of the pains of the world through our spiritual eyes.  But when we allow the Spirit to descend upon us, and when we open our own hearts and minds to it, we are given the tools we need to face these challenges and overcome the burdens.  What are these tools?  We are given wisdom, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord.  In other words: the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  God has  wrapped them in the most beautiful wrapping paper: they are wrapped within us. But how many of us open ourselves to these gifts, look back at them and even use them?  It is our choice to utilize the gifts God has graced us with in our own Baptism, allowing ourselves to be infused with the same spirit that descended upon our Savior. 


Angelica Delallana

Board-Certified Family Nurse Practitioner
Fertility Care Practitioner Intern and NaPro Technology Medical Consultant Intern with the St. Paul VI Institute
Confirmation Catechist
Co-Founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate

Carlos Solorzano

BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach
Certified Through the Theology of the Body Institute
Co-Founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate