Baptized, Sent, and Falling Short

Homa Bay, on Winam Gulf, Lake Victoria, Kenya;...

Homa Bay,Kenya

You’ve seen the movies: a person is in danger, slipping off a cliff or a building or some other perilous perch. Another person grasps them by the hand and desperately tries to pull him or her to safety. That is the image Isaiah gives us: God grasps the chosen servant by the hand and hangs on for dear life.  “I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant to the people” (Is 42:6). It is an image that  Pope Benedict XVI sees in his book Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus, the sinless one, plunges into the waters of our life, grasps a new covenant people by the hand, rises from the waters, all the while hanging on for dear life – our life.  And we are baptized into Christ, raised toward eternal life, commissioned to journey through this life.  Baptized and sent.

18 years ago, on the 2nd day of my mission to Kenya, I found myself in the back seat, traveling by car from Kisumu to Homa Bay on a mostly rough, uneven, dusty and rock-strewn dirt road only meters from Lake Victoria. The land was dry, parched, and in need of irrigation – all the result of irrigation projects promised but never seemingly a high enough national priority for this out-of-the-way corner of the nation.  Later we were to discover we were between the short rains of December and the long rains of July and August – and in reality, at the beginning of a year-long drought. Continue reading