Baptism of the Lord
Readings: (1st: Ish 42, 1-4.6-7; Ps: 28, 1-4.9-10; 2nd: Acts10, 34-38; Gos: Mtt 3, 13-17)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico & Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today is the celebration of the Lord’s Baptism. It equally marks the end of Christmas season, Year A. The Lord’s Baptism is providentially situated at the beginning of the year. It celebrates God’s gratuitous call to us to belong to his flock. It is a way of reminding us of who we are. That is, members of God’s great family, through our baptism in Christ.
According to Catholic Catechism, “Baptism cleans us from Original Sin, and makes us children of God (CCC 1213).” Therefore, today it is very important for us to reflect on our own baptism. This is especially, on how faithful we have been in keeping our baptismal vows. Are we still saying, “I do” to questions like: “Do you reject Satan? Do you reject sin? Do you believe in one God and one Holy Catholic Church? Do you believe in Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God? How faithful have we been to these vows?
Our first reading from Isaiah is a prophesy about the Messiah who was to come. This was fulfilled in the gospel of today during Jesus’ baptism. The Spirit of God rested on Him, and bore testimony that he is the son of God. In this reading, we see the Trinitarian God united in action. God the Father spoke thus: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” The Holy Spirit bore the witness to this by resting upon the son as a dove. They worked together in order to initiate the redemption of humanity through the water of baptism.
In our second reading God extended His grace of redemption to Cornelius and his entire household as he did to us through the same water of baptism. Surprised about the love and mercy of God, Peter testified: “The truth I have now come to realize is that God has no favorites, but any one of any nationality who fears God is acceptable to him.” This shows that the water of baptism does not segregate. It is for all who are willing to pass through it.
In today’s gospel, although Jesus was greater than John the Baptist, He allowed John to baptize Him. The most important lesson here is that Jesus tried to underscore the importance of baptism to our redemption and life as Christians. It is not a “mere sign.” Rather, it is a sacrament which leaves an indelible mark on the receiver. This is the sign or mark which God sees and testifies: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased!”
By allowing himself to be baptized, Christ manifested his full humanity. In order words, he shows us to what extent he fully identifies with us. Ordinarily, baptism was not necessary for Jesus because “he was like us in all things, except sin” (Heb 4, 15). He was not affected in any way by Original Sin. However, his baptism as he insisted was: “to fulfill all that righteousness demands.” It is a sign that Christ was ready to go through any ordeal for our salvation. That which He was to seal with his blood on the cross, he initiated through the water of baptism today. Through his baptism, he sanctified the water of our own baptism.
Therefore, today the church calls us to renew our baptismal vows to God. This is important so that this year, God may continue to say of us: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
Peace be with you!