January 12th (Baptism of our Lord)
…and behold, the heavens were opened for him. . .
Merry Christmas (one final time) to you, my dear friends in Christ! Today, the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Ordered (Ordinary) Time. The joy of Christmas, though, continues and carries us through the year. This joy comes from knowing that Jesus (the Word) became flesh and dwelt among us – He is with us.
The Incarnation, this great mystery of our faith, is again what we celebrate with His Baptism. John Paul II instituted for us the “Luminous Mysteries” of the Rosary, and the first of these mysteries of light is the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus (God) certainly did not need to be baptized by John, who tried to prevent him, saying “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” But Love wanted to unite Himself so intimately with us sinners that He submitted to a baptism of repentance. He didn’t stop short of taking the blame for our sins – as He would later demonstrate from the cross. He wasn’t proud, He wasn’t concerned with honor or status or reputation.
In that “Marvelous Exchange”, Jesus becomes us so that we might become Him. Jesus didn’t (and doesn’t) just come to live a perfect human life while standing apart from all of us smelly folk. Ok, you’re right, He did come to live a perfect human life and He does show us how to follow Him – but not as some hoity toity uppity big shot set apart from us. No, He came to truly be in communion with us – getting down with us in that yucky river water (in all of our germ-infested-ness) in order to draw (or lift) us out by being one with Him.
As He carried our human nature out of the Jordan River that day, 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.” This is our gift; this is our destiny – if we only accept it – to be truly children of God.
When you and I were baptized “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit”, it was not a merely cute event which put grandmother’s mind at ease until our 1st Communion. Rather, it was the event which transformed our identity and therefore our eternal destiny. You and I became members of Jesus Christ – now sons and daughters of God by adoption. We became sharers in His roles as priest, prophet, and king. We became reborn in water and the Holy Spirit.
Following His baptism, God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. I wonder what might happen if we lived out our baptism each day as Jesus lived His …
Peace to all of you, my friends, this Holy Day, and to all who love the Lord in simplicity of heart,