After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.
In celebrating the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday, we reflect on the difference of the baptism of St. John the Baptist vs. the Sacrament of Baptism. During Advent we learned that St. John the Baptist was baptizing so the people would repent, change their lives and recognize Jesus as the Messiah. John’s baptism was not a sacrament. This baptism was preparing the people for a life in Christ. Our Baptism is a sacrament, in which we become part of God’s family and part of the family of all believers. We are Baptized with the Holy Spirit and are reborn into a life in Christ. Baptism is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. Baptism aligns us with the Will of God. In Baptism we died to a life of sin and were born into a life in Jesus Christ. We may see our Baptism as a one-time event. However, we tap into the gift of the Holy Spirit given to us at Baptism, through a lifelong process of dying to sin and living a life in Christ – leading us to eternal life. We are reminded of this at the beginning of the Funeral Mass, when the priest sprinkles the casket with holy water saying: “In the waters of baptism, (name of the person is mentioned) died in Christ and rose with him to new life. May he/she now share with him eternal glory.”
What about Jesus’s baptism? We can describe the Baptism of the Lord as another epiphany, in the sense that Jesus reveals Himself – who He is and why He became man. All three persons of the Holy Trinity are present. … and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.…And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus began His life of public service at His baptism in the Jordan river. Our life of service also began at our Baptism. We serve in whatever state in life we have been called to. While there are several different forms to the ending of the Mass, they all contain a command to “go”, e.g.: “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with our life.” or “Go and announce the gospel of the Lord.” Renewed by the grace received in the Holy Eucharist, we go from the Mass into the world – our family, school, workplace or community to reveal Jesus Christ to others by our loving words and actions.
A blessed new year to all!