In our Gospel reading, John the Baptist is doing what his name proclaims – he is baptizing people, warning them, calling them to repentance, telling them about the One who will come after him.
Then, suddenly, a special man stands before him, asking to be baptized. The One who he was talking about! John seems quite shocked and surprised and, like we probably would, says that he is not worthy of baptizing Jesus.
Jesus responds somewhat strangely in vs 15: Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
It is difficult for us to understand why Jesus insisted, as we know that he did not need repentance, or cleansing of sins. Once again I read the text in The Message: But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.”
Still we do not quite understand why this is necessary, but we hear that it is part of God’s plan. It is God’s work to put thing right, to fulfill all righteousness.
I wonder what this means for me, as one who was also baptized, baptized into Christ, and as part of God’s will. What does this mean in the midst of the HIV epidemic?
You might have heard that the epidemic is “over”, that it is no longer a problem, but this is not true!
We do not use many graphics in this email, but I would like to share two slides from the UNAIDS report which was released for World AIDS Day 20131.
First, the summary of the situation in the world at the end of 2012:
Just looking at these figures, it is clear that the epidemic is by no means over:
- 2.3 million people newly infected in a year,
- 191 666 million mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters newly infected in a month.
- More than 6300 individuals newly infected every day.
- Thousands of families dealing with the many challenges of living with a life threatening disease and accessing the medication that can change HIV into a manageable chronic disease.
And then I look at the next image, showing where the 35 million people living with HIV actually live:
And I am reminded that it is here, here where I am, and where CABSA operates, in Sub – Saharan Africa, that we have 25 million brothers and sister living with HIV.
When I think ahead about 2014, I wonder what “God’s work, putting things right” should look like in our time and in our place. I am not quite sure what is expected of me, of you, of CABSA or of the Church in 2014.
But I know this: 2.3 million new infections a year is not “right”. Putting things right will have to mean an even more concerted effort to address the HIV epidemic, and even more progress towards HIV competent faith communities.
To think about: What is the first step you and your faith community can take to greater understanding of the HIV epidemic and its drivers, to hearing God’s voice in the epidemic, and to responding competently?
1.The 2013 UNAIDS Global Report Epidemiology Slides can be downloaded from http://www.unaids.org/en/media/unaids/contentassets/documents/epidemiolo…
Written by: Lyn van Rooyen, CABSA Director