FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST.
WHY DID JESUS SUBMIT HIMSELF TO ST. JOHN’S BAPTISM?
After commemorating the Birth of Our Lord during Christmas and His manifestation as Savior Messiah and Light to the world during the feast of Epiphany, Christmas season draws to its close with the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
In its liturgy, the Church remembers another solemn manifestation of Christ’s divinity. In the adoration of the Magi God revealed the divinity of Jesus by means of the star. At his Baptism the voice of God the Father, coming “from heaven”, reveals to John the Baptist and to the Jewish people — and thereby to all men — this profound mystery of Christ’s divinity.
“What happens in the moment that Jesus has himself baptized by John? With this act of humble love on the part of the Son of God the heavens open and the Holy Spirit is visibly manifest as a dove, while a voice from on high expresses the Father’s pleasure, who points to his only begotten Son, the Beloved. This is an authentic manifestation of the Most Holy Trinity, which witnesses to Jesus’ divinity, his being the promised Messiah, he whom God sent to free his people so that they might be saved (cf. Isaiah 40:2) (Benedict XVI, Homily on the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, January 12, 2013).”
The question arises: HOW COME JESUS, BEING THE SON OF GOD, ALLOWED HIMSELF TO RECEIVE FROM JOHN THE “BAPTISM OF REPENTANCE FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS” (Luke 3:3)?
“To inaugurate his public life and to anticipate the “Baptism” of his death, he who was without sin accepted to be numbered among sinners. He was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Father proclaimed him to be “his beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17) and the Spirit descended upon him. The baptism of Jesus is a prefiguring of our baptism (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 105).”
The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ “DISPLAYS THE PATH OF ABASEMENT AND HUMILITY THAT THE SON OF GOD FREELY CHOSE IN ORDER TO FOLLOW THE FATHER’S PLAN, TO BE OBEDIENT TO HIS WILL OF LOVE FOR MAN IN ALL THINGS, TO THE POINT OF THE SACRIFICE ON THE CROSS. Now an adult, Jesus initiates his public ministry, traveling to the Jordan River to receive a baptism of repentance and conversion from John. There occurs here something that might seem paradoxical in our eyes. DOES JESUS NEED TO REPENT AND CONVERT? CERTAINLY NOT. AND YET HE WHO IS WITHOUT SIN PLACES HIMSELF AMONG SINNERS TO BE BAPTIZED, TO PERFORM THIS GESTURE OF REPENTANCE; THE HOLY ONE OF GOD JOINS WITH THOSE WHO RECOGNIZE THEIR NEED OF FORGIVENESS AND ASK GOD FOR THE GIFT OF CONVERSION, THAT IS, THE GRACE TO RETURN TO HIM WITH ALL THEIR HEART, TO BE COMPLETELY HIS. JESUS WISHES TO PLACE HIMSELF AMONG SINNERS, MAKING HIMSELF SOLIDARY WITH THEM, EXPRESSING GOD’S NEARNESS. JESUS SHOWS HIMSELF TO BE SOLIDARY WITH US, WITH OUR EFFORT TO CONVERT, TO LEAVE OUR EGOISM BEHIND, TO TURN FROM OUR SINS, TO TELL US THAT IF WE ACCEPT HIM IN OUR LIVES HE IS ABLE TO LIFT US BACK UP AND LEAD US TO THE HEIGHTS OF GOD THE FATHER. And this solidarity of Jesus is not, so to say, a simple exercise of the mind and will. Jesus has truly immersed himself in our human condition, he lived it through and through, except for sin, and is able to understand weakness and frailty.
FOR THIS REASON HE HAS COMPASSION, CHOOSES TO “SUFFER WITH” MEN, TO MAKE HIMSELF A PENITENT WITH US. THE WORK OF GOD THAT JESUS WISHES TO ACCOMPLISH IS THIS: THE DIVINE MISSION HEAL THOSE WHO ARE WOUNDED AND TO CARE FOR THE SICK, TO TAKE THE SIN OF THE WORLD UPON HIMSELF (Benedict XVI, ibidem).”
As Christians, WE MUST IMITATE CHRIST, ENTERING INTO THIS “MYSTERY OF SELF-ABASEMENT AND REPENTANCE, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father’s beloved son in the Son and ‘walk in newness of life’(Rom 6:4). ‘Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him (St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 9)’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 586).”
Dear friends: let us THANK GOD FOR THE SACRAMENT OF BAPTISM through which we have become children of God and have received the sanctifying grace, the remission of original sin and at the same time the calling towards a life of holiness. Let us FOLLOW JESUS IN HIS HUMILITY AND SELF-ABASEMENT, knowing that we have THE CONSTANT NEED OF REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION.
“Almighty ever-living God, who when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan, and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you (Opening prayer, Mass of the Feast of Baptism of Our Lord).”
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Fr. Rolly A, priest of Opus Dei.