Today we mark the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Ordinary Time in the church.
John the Baptist was not the one who introduced baptism for the first time. The Jewish were used to baptism, but they did not submit to it. Baptism was an initiation rite for the pagan converts to Judaism from other faiths.
John clearly states that he is not the Messiah, but only the forerunner, the herald of Jesus’ coming. He is “not fit to undo the strap of the sandals of the one who is coming”. Undoing sandals was something only slaves did. John felt that, in Jesus’ case, he was not even worthy of being a slave of the messiah.
John’s baptism was for the forgiveness of sins, as it still is today. Jesus had no sins. He was perfect – the sinless one. Why would he come to be baptized? Jesus baptism was to show his union with man and to show the need for man to repent. Jesus stepped forward at his baptism to identify himself with sinners.
The prophet Isaiah wrote: Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. That is what Jesus came to do. He identified himself with sinners and our sin, by carrying their sins in order that our sins might be forgiven. Jesus was the sin bearer – and began his march to the cross there on the banks of the Jordan River. Even though he would not reach the cross for another 3 ½ years, he began to carry our sins.
Jesus’s baptism by John was a special moment – God appeared in three persons (The Holy Trinity). The Father in the form of the voice from heaven, The Son – Jesus, and The Holy Spirit in the form of the Dove. After Jesus was baptized he appeared publicly and preached to the people of Israel of their need for repentance as salvation was being offered to them.
What love Jesus has for you and me that he would leave his throne in heaven, where he had the greatest esteemed identity in the world – King of kings and Lord of lords, God Almighty! Jesus emptied himself and came down in human flesh, so that he, the holy God, would identify himself with sinners and live among us and teach us, in order to save us from our sinfulness.
What about our baptism in the Lord? As a baptized member of His Church, what are my commitments to Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior? How do we conduct ourselves in the affairs of our community? Have we been inclusive or exclusive in our ways?
In Baptism, we celebrate our entry into the family of God, with God the Father as source of life, Jesus as our redeemer, and the Spirit as the one who communicates God’s life to us and guides us in our lives as followers of Jesus.
As Baptism was an important moment for Jesus, so is our own baptism a very important moment in our lives because we enter into a new relation with God as our Father, the source of our life, with Jesus our redeemer and with the Spirit of God who will guide us in our lives as he guided Jesus.
In His Service,
Jackie Ling & Terry Yee
Questions for Reflection
How do we conduct ourselves in the affairs of our community? Have we been inclusive or exclusive in our ways?
Do you want to be become a more effective instrument of the Gospel of peace, mercy and righteousness?
Do you hear the calling of Pope Francis encouraging us to be missionary disciples of the joy of the Gospel (the Gospel is Jesus Christ himself, crucified and risen, who fills us with the fire of the Holy Spirit.