The Baptism Of The Lord
This Sunday we celebrate the baptism of the Lord, when Jesus was baptised in the river Jordan by John. None of us remember when we were baptised when we were infants but that said we may have known and Adult who was baptised. It may seem strange, but this is a Christmas Feast. Not if we think of Christmas only in terms of the Baby in Bethlehem, but if we have followed the ideas of the Feasts of Holy Family and especially Epiphany, and have seen the Season in terms of the growing manifestation or appearing of the Son of God: first to the shepherds and then to the wise men from the East. Now in the River Jordan, Jesus, Son of Mary, is revealed to all and everyone as the fullness of all God’s promises: “This is my Son, the Beloved“.
Just as Jesus entered the Jordan to be baptized, so he enters our scene of darkness and confinement in our lives today. He is the one promised us in the prophet Isaiah, the one who will “bring out prisoners from their prisons.” He comes to those hidden places that keep us locked up. He goes to the imprisoned areas of our lives and our restricted ways of behaving which we sometimes excuse by saying, “That’s just the way I am.” Rather than be a cheerleader on the sidelines, Jesus comes down into the dark places where we are. He helps us face the shadows and hidden places and leads us out – just as God promised God would do for us through the prophet Isaiah. Jesus’ baptism reminds us today that, through our own baptism, we are united to him. Most of us rarely, if ever, think about our baptism. Through our baptism we died with Christ and thus have been reborn into a whole new life ( Romans 6). We, the baptized, are incorporated into the body of Christ. We are called and enabled to imitate Jesus, whom Paul says, “went about doing good.” We don’t need a detailed rule book in order to know how we should act in each situation of our lives, for in baptism, we have the companionship of the Spirit of Jesus who is our wisdom, impulse and help to do good.
Some treat Baptism as a private family event only. They even insist on a baptismal ritual separate from the ones celebrated at Sunday Mass or on Sunday afternoon. They don’t appreciate that Baptism is not a private, but a public affair. Jesus didn’t insist that John baptize him further up the Jordan River with only his mother and a few family members and friends present. Jesus’ baptism was public – and so should each Christian’s be – a public ritual for people who are called to live their Christian vocation in public ways. There is little that is private about our vocation to follow Christ Our role as baptised Christians has some of the characteristics of St. John the Baptist in that we also are to prepare the way for Christ, not only in our own lives, but in that of others. We do this by the example of how we live our own lives and by teaching informally when the occasion arises. If we are doing this, we can ask ourselves, “Does this role bring us joy as it did St. John the BaptistIn a world that celebrates life achievements mostly for celebrities, the church rejoices at the baptism of a person into the church as well as into their own unique relationship with Jesus, as they are sealed and marked as Christ’s own forever. Take a moment now and reflect on where your baptismal journey has brought you. What have you done as a result of your life in Christ? How has Jesus led you to use your talents and gifts for righteous actions? What has been joyful for you on this journey? Then look around at your sisters and brothers, and give thanks that together we can celebrate our life in Christ and look forward to further adventures in the life of faith.