Bishop’s Epiphany Reflection – January 2022
The Good of Particularity
“You are my son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Luke: 3:22)
Sunday marked the commencement of the solemn Season of Epiphany, the manifestation of Jesus to the Gentile world, a world represented by the three Magi from the three known continents: Africa, Asia and Europe. These three symbols are indicative of Christ the Messiah’s lordship over the nations of the world.
The baptism narrative reveals a Savior who, although sinless, joined the line of sinners to await his turn to enter the ‘fount of baptism’ created by John the Baptizer in the River Jordan. The River Jordan was the body of water the Hebrew children crossed over centuries ago as recorded in the Book of Joshua Chapter 3. A crossing that marked a new and hopeful chapter in their exilic wandering lives; from slavery to freedom. Here, this body of water stands ready to receive the Son of God in baptism, and subsequently to release him to the tempter for the period of self-examination that was to follow.
Although there were many other candidates for baptism, Jesus’ baptism was the most renowned and transformative, highly publicized and scrutinized, both spiritually and politically. And so the question must be asked, “why didn’t this choice of identification go to the person in front of him, or behind him or before him?” I presume an appropriate way to answer this question is to consider it from the position of the Principle of the Good of Particularity.
God in every way sends the news about the world’s Savior because God determines the choice and directs the course of the God action on God’s terms. God was preparing Jesus of Nazareth for this moment in time ever since the inception of creation, through the days of the prophets, the announcement and the nativity, the 30 years of nurturing and now comes the day of maturation. Note the progression of God’s eternal conceptualization of this holy event consummated in the waters of baptism.
Scripture reminds us, “Light shines in the darkness”, in the words of the Apostle and Evangelist John, “and the darkness did not overcome it”. Epiphany, the Season of Light shines this light on God’s eternal world, even in a world under siege and gloomed by COVID 19 and its Delta and Omicron variants. Jesus will deliver, providing a viable way in this maze of international health and safety concern, and has been doing so ever since this pandemic began two years ago and since the beginning of time.
The Good of Particularity shows that Christ does not issue an impersonal decree about nameless people taken as a group. Christ heals particular lepers or blind persons who were at a particular place at the particular time when he was also there. Since so many may often feel that they go unnoticed as members of the collective whole, know that you stand out as the particular person you are. God does not deal with people as faceless numbers of a collective. God calls and heals one particular person at a time, as each individual comes to our Creator and Savior.
Likewise, you yourself, not your church or your group or your neighbor or your colleague, but each of us need to come to the Lord, to face him, to know him, to love him, and to let him heal you. The Good of Particularity says while Jesus is the universal Lord, Healer, Savior, Redeemer and Friend each person needs to come as their vulnerable, broken and bruised self here and now to be a ‘broken body and poured out wine’. A sinner in need of grace and mercy; a darkness in need of the light of Christ and a perpetrator of hatred in need of transformation to selfless love.
In the final analysis the ‘burden of proof’ rests with oneself “me” to recommit to love the God who first loved me. Personally, in the spirit of the Good of Particularity, each hears the voice of God gently and softly saying to us at our baptism, “You are my son/daughter, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased”.