Reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus
My Dear Good People,
Today we celebrate the baptism of Jesus by St. John (the Baptist, of course), which is a quick jump from the Three Kings and the Epiphany we celebrated last week. But there is no time with God, so all is well.
In the Gospel of St. Luke 3: 15-22 and in the other Gospels, we see John baptizing, although he makes it very clear that Another will come who will baptize, not with water, but with the Holy Spirit. Then Jesus comes to the Jordan River and asks John to baptize Him. Did Jesus need to be baptized? Shouldn’t He have been the one baptizing? If you ask those two questions, know that John asked the same questions, notably in the Gospel of Matthew, 3:13-17. But Jesus insists and John does as He asks. As Jesus rises from the waters of the Jordan after His baptism, the Holy Spirit appears as a dove, and the voice of the Father is heard saying, This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
The Jewish people knew of the Holy Spirit, from the book of Genesis when the Spirit breathed above the waters (Genesis 1:1.2), and throughout the Old Testament they learned of the Father and the promised Messiah, but the understanding of the Blessed Trinity was not clearly articulated until the Baptism of Jesus. In this striking event at the very outset of the public life of Jesus, let us not miss the beauty of the moment when we find ourselves in the gentle embrace of the Holy Trinity as Jesus shows us the importance of baptism.
Most of us don’t recall our own baptism, but we’ve seen images of this ceremony or attended a Baptism, and we may have been surprised at the tenderness of this sacrament when for the first time the Life of the Trinity is breathed into the soul of the one being baptized. How awesome that we became the very host of the supreme Guests, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in such a quiet, personal moment. Here is the God of the universe, Ruler of heaven and earth, Majesty ineffable, bending down to take up His residence in the soul of a baby, an adolescent, a married woman, a man on his deathbed, a librarian or a concert cellist being baptized for the first time, and the world takes no notice. How humbly, personally and tenderly God becomes one with us. This is renewed in each sacrament we receive throughout our life. The seal of our baptism is an indelible sign, the Catechism tells us, which we will carry into eternity. Does it not take one’s breath away?
Today, as we consider the revelation of the Holy Trinity at the Baptism of Jesus, may we take a few moments to quietly look back to the moment when God took up residence in our soul at our baptism. How dear we are to Him. How deeply He loves us. He claims us for His own.
Listen: you might hear softly in your soul the words your Father says of you as He said of Jesus, This is my beloved son, my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased. No matter what is going on in the world around you or the cares that threaten to shipwreck you, no matter the sins you find yourself confessing over and over each time you receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, dare to believe that you are beloved of the Blessed Trinity. Not just created or valued, but loved. Be loved. Celebrate your baptism today. It was your first invitation to fall in love with God who has always, ALWAYS, been in love with you.
I bow to the Divine Image in you.