The Baptism of the Lord 2020
By Deacon John Girolami
Jesus immersed in the human experience
Today, Mark tells us the story of the baptism of Jesus. This story is very different than the stories of Jesus that we heard over the Christmas season. Jesus is now a man and John the Baptist his cousin who lept in the womb of Elizbeth is grown up as well. He is going about his ministry, calling the people of God to repent from their sins.
Jesus comes forward to meet John at the Jordan to be baptized. Christ himself steps forward to fulfill His promise to the Father. He begins his ministry freely, knowing that the journey takes Him to the cross. He is baptized by John, signifying the beginning of his life of service to his people, as their Savior. The Father sends the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove which descends upon Him. Then the Father’s voice is heard.
“You are my Son, the beloved, with you I am well pleased. “; a revealing of Jesus as God by God the Father himself. Today God the Father himself shows us that Jesus is His beloved Son. Jesus wills to be baptized by John to bring us salvation.
This is the second time we are shown Christ as the Savior, the Son of God in the scriptures. The first was at the visit of the wise men that were led by the star. Here Christ is shown as the savior of not only the Jews but of all men.
The third manifestation or showing of Christ as the Son of God will be at the wedding feast at Canaan where Jesus changes water into wine.
But why has Christ chosen to be baptized? He is sinless. He needs to repent for nothing. What is he doing there? Why has he come?
Jesus comes to be immersed in the experience of humanity.
This shows Christ’s solidarity with us. He is both God and man. As a child He experienced what it feels like to be born. He will know what it is to die on the cross. At the Jordan, Jesus is there with all the sinners. But in Christ a new creation is begun. He elevates the human body and the human soul to no longer be a slave to sin but to be a child of God. He shows us what life was intended to be all along.
When we are baptized, we too have been claimed by the Father. We share a type of identity with Christ. And when I celebrate the sacrament of baptism, I hear these words in the back of my mind every time the water is poured on the head.
“You are my son. You are my daughter, my beloved.” The newly baptized receive the power of the Holy Spirit.
By virtue of His baptism at the Jordan, we are invited to reflect on our own Baptism. We are asked to look at ourselves and see if we are meeting our baptism commitments, to follow Christ and his ways, to live a life of love of God and love of neighbor. As his followers we should lead others to Jesus by our example, our behavior so that they see Christ in us. In doing so, they can build their own relationship with Christ. This should be seen in every area of our lives. Baptism is a birth into the Christian community and is in every way as solemn and as important as physical birth itself. In baptism we become by adoption, children of God. We are reborn of water and the Holy Spirit. Through the visible signs of the sacrament we are inwardly transformed. It shows God’s belief in us that we are created for good. By the pouring of the water at baptism, the person is recreated by God in His image. God breaks the lineage we have with Adam and Eve and we are remade without the fall interfering with our creation.
So, we can see how the baptism of Jesus is a showing of God to man, and an encounter with God. What we forget is that every time the sacrament of Baptism is celebrated, it is a showing of who God is and how God saves his people. It is an encounter with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the sacrament. We also receive the graces of baptism and we enter into a new personal relationship with our God. It is also an invitation into Christ’s mission.
The soul was asleep, hidden under the blanket of original sin. The soul comes to life and is fed by the grace of the Father. Before all else, baptism consists of being recreated and incorporated into a new higher kind of life, a supernatural life of grace. It involves coming into a new kind of spiritual relationship as a child of God through Christ.
We ourselves become a means by which Christ is shown to the world. We become a Christian.
The venerable Archbishop Sheen of the United States defined Christianity is this way: “Christianity is not a system of ethics; it is life. It is not good advice; it is divine adoption. Being a Christian does not consist of just being kind to the poor, going to church, singing hymns or serving on parish committees, though it includes all these. It is first and foremost a love relationship with Jesus Christ. “
How do we show Christ to the world?
We do so by finding the lost. Maybe a friend is overwhelmed with all this Covid talk and need someone to check on them, to reach out to them.
We do so by healing the broken. Maybe a friend has lost a loved one and needs help finding some hope in each day.
We do so by making music in the heart. Maybe someone needs to just hear some good news, some joy, like to sound of a new born baby.
Do this and people will know you are a follower of Christ. They will know by your love.