Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
“This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
– Matthew 3: 16 – 17
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, which brings an end to the Christmas Season. Jesus descended into the River Jordan to sanctify its waters and to give them the power to produce sons of God. This feast is called Theophany (the manifestation of God) in the Eastern Church because at the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan God appeared in three persons.
Jesus joins the people who are going out to John the Baptist, not because he needs to repent because he has not sinned and has no sin in him. He voluntarily submits himself to the Baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to “fulfill all righteousness.” Though pure, innocent, and without sin, Our Lord allows John to baptize Him, not because He needs it, but because sinners need it. He is not purified through baptism, but He purifies the waters of baptism. By surrendering to the Father, he serves as a model for us. He invites us to share in the relationship he has with the Father, which is announced from the heavens. Jesus’ gesture is also a manifestation of his self-emptying. When He is baptized, his divinity is manifested. He confirms the presence of the Holy Spirit at Baptism, as well as the presence of the Father and the Son. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his “beloved Son.” We are all his beloved children and receive the grace of the Father’s mercy at our baptism.
The Baptism of Christ represents the beginning of His Messianic mission. At this time, the promise of eternal life is made to all who are baptized. The Church baptizes babies as soon as possible after they are born to ensure the promise of eternal life.
Pope St. John Paul II has said that we should celebrate our baptism just as we celebrate our birthdays. For, this is the date commemorating the day that we are filled with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and admitted into the Eucharistic communion with others in the Catholic Church. Through the Holy Spirit, in baptism we are purified, justified, and sanctified. This is the day when we begin our faith journey with the Lord and make the most important commitment in our lives. We take the first step in inheriting the kingdom of God. The vows taken for the infant at this time are based upon the faith of the parents.
As we meditate on the baptism of Your Son today, help us to recall our own baptism and its calling — to proclaim the Good News and to make Your message known to all those we encounter. Help us to always be faithful to our mission. We ask this in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and through the intercession of Mother Mary, as we pray Hail Mary, full of grace…