The Baptism of Our Lord
Name: The Baptism of Our Lord
Date: 13 January
In the life of Christ, His baptism in the Jordan is an event of the highest importance, because itrepresents a significant phase in the work of redemption. We know that the liturgy of theecclesiastical year commemorates all the phases of Christ’s redemptive work; and recently, duringthe season of the Nativity, we have reflected on His coming into the world, poor and solitary in agrotto at Bethlehem, and on His circumcision. Now His baptism in the Jordan marks the divinelyinaugurated beginning of Our Lord’s public life. Indeed, Saint Peter states that at His baptism, infulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel, He was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the Christ, theMessiah, which means the Anointed One: “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spiritand with power, and He went about doing good and healing all who were in the power of thedevil, for God was with Him.” (Acts 10:38) An anointing has always been the symbolic, visiblerepresentation of an intimately established union, a specific, defined alliance or covenant betweenGod and one of His servants. God the Father speaks at this moment, to make clear who thisPerson is. The foretold Saviour is His Divine Son, begotten from all eternity: “This is My BelovedSon, in whom I am well pleased.”
In the symbolism of His baptism, Christ, Himself immaculate, assumes the sins of the world,descends into the purifying waters, and raises mankind to divine sonship. His baptism wasvicarious in nature; He stands in the Jordan in our stead. Consequently, this act must find itscomplement in our personal redemption. Our lives are profoundly altered through Christ’sredemptive sacrifice, on at least three such occasions: our Baptism, our attendance at Holy Mass,and our death in Christ.
At our Baptism we were immersed with Jesus, with Him we died and were buried. Then weemerged, and for the first time heaven opened to us, as the Holy Spirit made His advent into oursoul, and our Father in heaven looked down upon us, now “His sons, His children.”
In each Holy Mass, Christ’s baptismal offering is again operative. Through the Holy Sacrifice weare immersed in His sacrificial death; heaven then opens and the Holy Spirit descends throughHoly Communion. Through the pledge of the sacrificial Banquet the Father assures us of renewedand enriched sonship in Christ.
The baptism of Christ is accomplished within us a third time at our death, if we are united withHim, for death is indeed a sort of baptism. Death is like immersion into the dark depths, but whenwe receive the Last Sacraments, on emerging, it is to a different life — it is our hope and ourconfidence, if we have been faithful to God’s grace, that it will be the life of glory, the beatificvision. Then we will see the Blessed Trinity, no longer through the darkened sun-glass of faith,but in immediate vision, face to face.
To sum up, today’s liturgy helps us to understand more clearly the basic structure of spiritual life,the redemptive acts of Christ. Upon that foundation the edifice rises through the Sacraments ofBaptism and the Eucharist, while the Lord’s return, at our death, brings completion to the work.