the Baptism of the Lord
9th January 2022
Year C – Psalter week 1
Today marks the end of the Liturgical season of Christmas. It was only last Thursday, that we celebrated the feast of the Epiphany when the three wise men came to visit the baby Jesus, yet today we jump forward a number of years as we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This is a second epiphany really, where God is again revealed to the world in the person of Jesus Christ not as a baby this time, but as a man at the beginning of his public ministry filled with the Holy Spirit and embracing his mission from God the Father.
The baptism of Jesus was indeed a world changing event. Through the teaching of John the Baptist, there had arisen among the people a feeling of great expectation and they clearly felt that something momentous was soon to happen. In our Gospel reading, we hear John the Baptist address the confusion of the people who thought that he might be the Messiah, the leader they were hoping for. John was changing lives and preparing the people for Jesus coming. Many were repenting of their sins and being washed clean in the waters of the river Jordan. Although this was very powerful in their lives, this was just a preparation for what Jesus was to do for mankind. John contrasts the baptism that he performs with the baptism that Jesus will bring about. John the Baptist says that he has baptised with water, but that someone will come and baptize with fire and the Holy Spirit through which sins are forgiven, and the grace of the Holy Spirit is received. It is at this point that Jesus appears on the scene now standing with, and very much among, the people.
So why did Jesus ask to be baptised by John. He didn’t need his sins forgiven as he is sinless, he didn’t need the grace of the Holy Spirit as he is part of the Holy Trinity, and he didn’t need to become a child of God as he was God’s son.
He wanted to make a very public sign to all, that the Holy Spirit was with him and that he was God’s son and to show that he was truly among them and understood their pain and suffering and wanted to carry their burdens. Jesus’ baptism was not a one-off event put on to show to the people who he was, because it is the one and same sacrament that the Church continues to celebrate today and through which we are able to follow in the very same footsteps of Jesus himself.
At our baptism we are freed from original sin, we become a temple of the Holy Spirit, heaven opens for us, and the Holy Spirit descends on us, we become a son or daughter of God and therefore an heir of heaven, and God speaks the exact same words to us from heaven as to Jesus on his baptism.
‘You are my son / my daughter the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’
But it must change us, because through our baptism we become an important part of the mission of the Church and the work of Christ. We join with him in his saving mission and should not just become bystanders. We are called to actively reveal God’s love, grace, and mercy to the world. This can be through prayer, which strengthens us in times of need and guides us towards the path we should choose. We also need to strive to be true shepherds to those who are in need, the poor the lonely. As a parish we certainly did this through the Love Christmas campaign and I wanted to thank everyone again for all the wonderful donations, help, support, and prayers that meant we were able to share God’s love for us, with almost 300 families and individuals who were in real need and poverty, and this is work we should continue.
Today we remember the baptism of Jesus, his acceptance of his mission from God the father and his desire to be completely with us in the midst of our lives.
We should also recall our own baptism, when heaven was opened for us, the Holy Spirit descended on us, and we were commissioned to share the great love and mercy of Jesus with all.
1 Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it.
Bless the Lord, my soul! Lord God, how great you are.
He saved us by means of the cleansing water of rebirth.
‘Someone is coming who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire’
Someone is coming, said John, someone greater than I.
He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.