January 10: The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 55:1-11; Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38; Mark 1:7-11
Before performing a Baptism, the priest approached the young father and said solemnly, “Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?” “I think so,” the man replied. “My wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of our guests.” “I don’t mean that,” the priest responded. “I mean, are you prepared spiritually?” “Oh, sure,” came the reply. “I’ve got a keg of beer and a case of whiskey.”
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord concludes for us the Christmas Season and transitions us into the beginning of Ordinary Time. The Gospel says that John had «appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of the sins» (Mk 1:4). People went out to see and hear him, to confess their sins and to be baptized by him in the Jordan River. And among those people Jesus also appeared to be baptized.
Last Sunday we have seen how Jesus appeared to the magi who, coming from the East, worshiped Him and offered Him their gifts. In fact, the coming of Jesus to the world is to manifest God’s love that saves us. From a Scriptural point of view, this event in Jesus’ life is also a transitional moment from His hidden life in Nazareth to the beginning of His public ministry. In the river Jordan, a new manifestation of Jesus’ divinity was made: heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended towards Him as a dove and the voice of the Father was heard: «You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased» (Mk 1:11). In this case, it is the Father of Heaven and the Holy Spirit who made it manifest. It is God himself who reveals who is Jesus, His beloved son.
But it was not a revelation only for John and the Jews. It was for us too. By His baptism, Jesus’ incredible humility is made manifest. He is the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, but He allows Himself to become identified with sinners. By sharing in an act that was focused upon repentance, Jesus speaks volumes through His action of baptism. He came to unite Himself with us sinners, to enter our sin and to enter into our death. By entering the water, He symbolically enters into death itself, which is the result of our sin, and rises triumphantly, allowing us to also rise with Him to new life. For this reason, Jesus’ baptism was a way of Him “baptizing” the waters, so to speak, so that water itself, from that moment onward, would be endowed with His divine presence and could be communicated to all who are baptized after Him. Therefore, sinful humanity is now able to meet divinity through baptism.
Jesus himself, the beloved Son of the Father, who manifested to the Jews in the river Jordan, continually manifests to us every day. In the Church, in prayers, in our brothers, at the Baptism we have received that has made us children of the same Father. Let us ask, therefore: – Do I recognize his presence, his love in my life? – Do I live a true relationship of filial love with God? Pope Francis says: What God seeks from us is a relationship like that between a father and child. In the midst of our struggles and difficulties, the Heavenly Father also tells us: “you are my son whom I love; with you I am well pleased”. Amen.