Epiphany fell on January 6th. My father passed away on the following day, Sunday January 7th. I did not realize the solemnity of the weekend until I was sitting in church this morning, at the memorial mass that my friend and mentor, Reverend Donald Boisvert celebrated for me.
Sunday, January 7th was actually the Baptism of the Lord. Mark 1:4-11.
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
The weather was cold. There is snow piled up all over the place. At least the sidewalks are all cleared of snow, and it is piled up against the streets. Cars are buried as well.
We sat a small group for the memorial mass this morning.
This story, the baptism of Jesus, takes place at the Jordan River. One of my favorite authors, Brooks Hansen, wrote a book called “John the Baptizer” in it is a very compelling visual of John and his disciples, on the bank of the Jordan, as many people are coming from all points far and wide to see John, and to be baptized by him.
One of the early disciples, Andrew, shows up at the Jordan with the fellow-man named Nathaniel. Nathaniel does not make it into the twelve, but plays a prominent role in the story, as well as the Gospel teachings.
Andrew leaves his family, after feeling like a shroud is cast over him and he seeks to find something within. For a couple of days, he sits with Nathaniel on the banks of the Jordan, till the Sabbath, when John baptizes.
One odd day, a man from Nazareth shows up among the crowd. Every body recognizes him as a Nazorean, by his dress and his looks. The story that unfolds is legend, where Andrew, Nathaniel and the many on the banks of the Jordan, witness the miraculous baptism of Jesus by John.
I mused to my priestly friend after mass, about what my father must have been thinking when his time finally came up. And what took place when he stood before God, and made his peace, and I laughed and said …
Well, he must have gotten up there, and God gave him a very LONG LOOK. They probably had quite the conversation. And as we know, God is all forgiving, and I am sure that Jeannie and Alexander were waiting for him on the other side of the gate to welcome him.