“You are my Beloved.”
Today’s feast of the Baptism of our Lord we cross several years in the life of Jesus. It is a passing from one Era to a new one. From the Old to a New.
With the Baptism of our Lord, we begin the Ordinary time of the year. From Christmas time to ordinary time of the year. We have the gospel of Luke for the liturgical year too.
In the Lucan story we hear that people were all excited and waiting in expectation. However, he points out that the people expectations were not right. Their preparations were short, as for God it is a long preparation. The long preparation from the OT till that of Jesus. In the person of John the Baptist and his ministry is a culmination of all Old Testaments waiting. Thus, in figure of John the Baptist, the people thought that he was the Messiah, the Christ.
He should however be joined with the personality of Zachariah, Elizabeth, Anna, Simeon and to an extent also Mary, to understand their role as the bridge between the old to the new.
When we look at all the personality of the preparation: Zachariah, Elizabeth, Anna, Simeon, Mary, we need to understand their role as a bridge between the old and the new.
Example of Simeon: when he see Jesus and carries him in his arms and says…now Master you can let your servant go in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation. This is not simply an old man wanting to die; but by his saying and being there is the hope of all Israel expectation, now my turn is over as you usher in the new era. For your salvation is among us. Crossing into a new era.
The crowd too have misunderstood John the Baptist as the Christ; by his fierce preaching and baptism of repentance that he does. However John tells them that they are wrong. John recognizes his place in salvation history. John is only preparing the way, the signpost pointing to the right one.
In today’s gospel John the Baptist speaks in to them in the present time. I baptize you with water, I am not fit to undo the straps of his sandals. He baptizes with water, a symbol of ancient ritual of conversion and repentance.
What Jesus will do is explained in the future tense.
- He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and Fire.
- He is the more powerful One (GOD).
- John points to Jesus who is beyond our times too.
- Not Baptism of repentance and conversion, but a one which calls for transformation. That is by fire and Holy Spirit)
Holy Spirit goes back to the very first mentioned in Genesis, creative action of God in the very beginning. The same creative presence from the beginning of time. The Holy Spirit is the new time, time of God.
At the baptism of Jesus two events takes place (are mentioned): one can be Seen and the other one can be Heard.
- Descend of the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove
- Dove (story of Noah) the dove was good news. A second creation, strong and new one. The death action of God has come to an end.
- Second creation story, first one was destroyed with sin.
- Dove on Jesus, a new creation through him
- This is seen: a new creation
- A voice is heard. You are my Son the Beloved.
- The one expected by Zachariah, Elizabeth, Anna, Simeon, John the Baptist, Mary, they played a part in the infancy story is no longer expected, but He is among us, one among us. Jesus is the ONE
- Actual person is Jesus, now among us.
- He will now inspire us, transform us, divide us, desire us..
- Some of us will say yes, some will say no, to this offer of God’s presence.
- God’s favor rest on Him.
Arrival of Jesus today as He Begins His Public ministry, one season comes to an end (Christmas time) and another one begins- ordinary time. With the baptism of our Lord, we too are called to live our Baptism life. Take the challenge of our baptism, to live our lives like that of Jesus. That Jesus is among us. To be His beloved son and daughter. This also brings fire.
Baptism of Jesus:
- Spirit and fire
- A challenging one
- A transforming one
- To look at the good we are doing with our lives, the harm we do to our lives.
- To look at our lives
- Voice of God heard as Jesus is the favored one.
- We too are called sons and daughters
- We are filled with the Holy Spirit
- We are called to bring this Spirit into our challenging world
- Make it our own baptism too.
On the feast of the Baptism of our Lord, let us in a special way remember the Priest that baptized us and welcomed us into the Holy Church as Sons and daughters of God our Loving Father.
Baptism inaugurated Jesus’ mission.
- Gospels too remind us, that through our baptism, we too are sent on a mission.
- We are not baptized into a stay at home community to enjoy our own gatherings, but to serve Christ in our brothers and sisters.
- Our mission first is to strengthen our own faith, hear the voice of God in our hearts… to help others to hear this voice of God, “You are my Beloved”
I wonder if any of us know or remember the date of our baptism. It is the most important spiritual event in our lives; it marks the beginning of our own journey with Jesus. It begins our Christian story.
- It makes each one of us members of the Body of Christ.
- It should make us feel for the church and all that happens in it.
- Makes us take responsibility, with the Blessed Trinity.
The word, ‘Ephphatha’ (be opened) that is traced on our ears at our baptism, is that we should be able to hear the word of God.
- Heavens have been ‘torn open’
- You have become a new creation and have been clothed in Christ.
- A new beginning, a pure one, one that you have become son and daughter of God.
Baptism of our Lord Jesus
- An act of Humility and solidarity
- Jesus wanted to be like one of us and so joined the line of sinners (though he knew no sin and did not sin)
- Jesus carries the cross of our sins, dies for our sins.
Baptism was the turning point in the life of Jesus. The first moment of decision to end Jesus private life.
Baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity:
- We become son and daughter of God
- When we dip our fingers at the entrance of the Church, it is to remind us our Baptism. I am a child of God.
Baptism of Jesus reminds us of our mission:
- We need to have knowledge of our mission (study and know our faith)
- To live as children of God in thought, word and deed.
- To build up this kingdom of God here and now.
The feast of Baptism of our Lord must remind us:
- Now you know who you are and whose you are!
Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.