The Baptism of the Lord
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord and with it, the three great revelations or “epiphanies” of the Christmas season are brought to fulfilment.
The first of these revelations was the birth of Jesus when it was visibly made known to man (the shepherds) that God had accepted for himself a human nature and allowed himself to be born in this world as a baby boy. The second of these revelations we commemorated this past Sunday in the solemnity of Christ’s Epiphany where Christ was revealed to the three wise men (the Magi) as the King of the Jews and the Messiah. Today we celebrate the third of these manifestations of the divine as the Holy Trinity is publicly revealed to the people gathered at the Jordan River. At the Baptism of Christ all three persons of the Holy Trinity- Father, Son and Holy Spirit- were made known.
The amazing revelation in this scripture passage is not principally that Jesus allowed himself to be baptized by John but, rather, that in that moment something about God’s identity was revealed that was not fully known or even believed to be possible. “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 1:9-11) The Son makes himself known, the Father speaks, and the Holy Spirit descends. All three persons of God reveled for all to see and hear! It is from this point that Jesus begins his public ministry and teaches us to live a life based on faith, hope and charity.
Our Baptism is the moment that the Holy Spirit draws us out from a fallen world into the Trinity. Through God’s grace we are grafted unto the line of Christ. It draws us into the relationship between the Father and the Son. We become the sons and daughters of God through the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit is the relationship between God the Father and Jesus. It means that our union with Jesus is a union with God. It means that Jesus is not just another man, not even another extraordinary man. He is God. He has a human nature given to him through Mary, and a divine nature eternally at one with the God.
Our Baptism is called grace because it is given to those that bring nothing on their own. It is not our accomplishment. Our Baptism justifies us and washes away our sin. We become new creatures in Christ; lifted, transformed, saved. We are born again!
In 2002 when St. Pope John Paul II put forward the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, he wanted to shine a light on the public ministry of Jesus and those times when Jesus was revealed as the Son of God. He designated the Baptism of Jesus as the first Luminous Mystery. Three statements from the Luminous mysteries should resonate strongly with us today:
“And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”” (Mark 1:11)
“His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you.”” (Jn 2:5)
“And from the cloud a voice said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him” (Mt 17:5)
It is in our Lord’s public ministry that He reveals Himself, conveys His message, and invites us to eternal life. Now more than ever, in this time of great anxiety, this message of hope rings true. If you believe in Him, and live a life based on faith, hope and charity, you will be saved. Listen to him!
My fervent prayer for you this day is that, when your time on earth is complete, you too will here the voice of God say, “with you I am well pleased.”
God bless you folks, Father Gerard