Today, we formally end the Christmas season with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. Christmas ends; ordinary time begins. But we are reminded that our encounter with the Lord does not end. On the contrary, it is intensified in the ordinary tasks that we do each day.
The Baptism of Jesus in Jordan by John that we hear in the Gospel today reminds us also of our own baptism. In fact, there is parallelism between the two: Jesus’ baptism and ours. Let us reflect on the meaning of our Lord’s Baptism and its implication in our lives.
FIRST, in His Baptism, Jesus revealed Himself as the Son of the Father. In fact, the Lord’s Baptism reveals to us that God is a Trinity: One God in Three Divine Persons. The Father’s voice is heard: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” – words that remind us of the First Reading: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased”.
Our baptism also marks the beginning of our divine filiation. It serves as our anointing as sons and daughters of God. In baptism, we become children of God and brothers and sisters to one another. Baptism makes us one big human family of God. The implication is that because we are God’s children now, we should strive only to please our Father so that we too can hear God saying about us: “This is my beloved son, with whom I am pleased”.
SECOND, the Lord’s Baptism also marks the beginning of His public ministry. It serves as His anointing as the Messiah sent by God, the Father, whom the Prophet Isaiah prophesied in the First Reading as the one who “shall bring forth justice to the nations” and who is the “light for the nations to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from slavery”. The Acts of the Apostles, in the Second Reading, summarizes Jesus’ public ministry in these words: “He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him”.
Our baptism also marks the beginning of our vocation to holiness. Anointed by the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, we are called to live a holy life, always keeping ourselves away from sin. With such anointing, we share in the three ministries of Christ as Priest, Prophet and King. As priest, we must offer to God the worship that is due to Him by participating in the Sacred Liturgy. As prophet, we must proclaim the love of God to the world through our actions, and – if necessary – also through our words. As king, we must render service to God through our service to our neighbors.
The implication is that because we are baptized as priest, prophet and king, then, we must strive to transform our hearts into the heart of Jesus, to think, speak and behave like Jesus, to become alter Christus (other Christ) or ipse Christus (Christ Himself) to others.
Lastly, in Jordan, Jesus joined the line of sinners approaching John to receive the baptism of repentance. Jesus, who knows no sin, becomes one with the sinners by being with them. He is near to those who are lost. He eats with them. He shows solidarity with sinful humanity.
The implication is that our baptism should also make us one with Jesus and with one another. Solidarity means we should live as one people of God. It means that we should be concerned with the needs of our brothers and sisters. If somebody is lost, we should try to find him. If one is in error, we should correct him. We should strive to help one another in our needs, whether they are spiritual, moral, or economic. Our attitude with one another should be like that of Jesus: we weep at other’s misfortune, laugh at other’s joy, and are compassionate – not judgmental – of other’s defects.
Today’s celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, therefore, is a good reminder of the meaning of our own baptism: that in the same way that the Lord’s Baptism reveals that He is the Son of God, who is pleasing to the Father, and the Messiah who is one with the sinful humanity, we too must be pleasing to God and must be transformed into the likeness of Christ.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary assist us in our struggle to become ipse Christus, Jesus Christ Himself. Amen.