Mission Society of the Philippines



Lk 3:15-16;21-22

WE HAVE JUST celebrated some great Christmas feasts, namely, the Holy Family, Mary the Mother of God, and Epiphany. Today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which commemorates the adulthood of Jesus is equally important. Here, the Holy Trinity is manifested for the ?rst time. The Father speaks from heaven, the Son is on the river Jordan, and the Holy Spirit descends in a form of a dove.

This feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the concluding celebration of the Christmas season. On Monday we begin the ‘Ordinary Time’. The feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings the Christmas season to its close because it expresses who this Child was who was born at Bethlehem: the Savior of the world is actually the Son of God.

The day of Jesus’ baptism was a turning-point in His life; it was a day of new beginning. The baptism of Jesus had led Him to twofold awareness: identity and mission. On the one hand, He was aware of his identity, being the Son of God.  The voice of the Father confirms it: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” On the other hand, the baptism marks also the beginning of His mission, that is, to offer salvation to all. On that day He began his public ministry during which He gave himself fully in the service of God and God’s people.

The baptism of Jesus also speaks about our own baptism.

On the one hand, our baptism gives us a new identity. Our baptism was also a day of new beginning for us. We have entered into a very special relationship with God. If Jesus is the Son of God, we have also become children of God, by adoption. In addition, we have become part of Jesus’ family of disciples, the Church. We began our adventure of becoming disciples of Jesus in our time. We were assured of God’s love and we too were empowered by the Holy Spirit for the journey. In baptism, we have become Christians. We need to carry this identity always, and must be proud of this identity.

On the other hand, as Christians, we have a mission to fulfill. By virtue of baptism, as well as of confirmation, we promise to God to share the faith and the gospel to others. Christianity calls for an active involvement, that is, to demonstrate and live out this faith that we received. Thus, baptism is the beginning of a lifelong call. We spend the rest of our lives trying to carry out what this call meant to be. We were baptized as children, but years later we have personally confirmed the implications of our baptism.

But there is also a relationship of difference. The baptism of Jesus is not the same as our baptism. Our baptism is associated with the forgiveness of sins. In contrast, Jesus is sinless. His baptism is just a “symbolic swim.” It demonstrates His solidarity with the sinners. Pope Emeritus Benedictus XVI once reflected that what happened on the day where Jesus was baptized is that Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon his shoulders; He bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. Jesus immersed himself in our human condition and He was able to understand our weakness and frailty. That is again an expression of the humility of Jesus.

In a way, the presence of Jesus in the Jordan was a ‘consecration’ of the sacrament of baptism. In the same way, the presence of Jesus at Cana is seen also as a 'blessing' of the sacrament of marriage. AMEN.

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