Sharing in the Baptism of Our Lord

With the feast of the Baptism of the Lord today, we rejoice in Jesus’ immersion in the waters of the Jordan as marking the beginning of his public life and his mission of our redemption.

Jesus’ baptism is also another epiphany, with Saint John the Baptist bearing witness that Jesus is the Christ, the long-promised Messiah. God himself confirms his proclamation in an extraordinary way by a manifestation of the Blessed Trinity: the Father’s voice, the Son’s body, and the Spirit descending as a dove. This is the moment of Jesus’ anointing as priest, prophet, and king.

Like Jesus, we too were anointed at our baptism to share in Jesus’s priestly, prophetic and kingly mission. Thus, from the time of the early Church, we see this feast day as not just a celebration of Jesus’ baptism but also our own. Today is a celebration of the graces that we received in baptism and receive every day as a gift from the God who loves us. We are also reminded that we must be open to welcoming those graces and using this and all gifts that we receive from God in making our own lives an imitation of Christ’s life, in which he was a living expression of God’s love, mercy and compassion.

As we settle back into a more ordinary routine of work and weekend activities – at least for a few short weeks before Lent begins on February 14 – let us remember that the extraordinary gift of the Incarnation and the example of Christian living that we learn in Jesus’ preaching and teaching invite us to be witness to the dynamism of the Christian life.  Reflecting on this:  How can we live our faith fully? How can we share our faith more freely? What part of our lives can be transformed by our choosing to be more kind and compassionate?

The linkage between the person baptized and Jesus – between the message and the messenger – is not just a matter of our own personal salvation. It is not only an action of personal piety. Rather, we are engaged in a new life of the Spirit so that working in and through us, the Spirit might transform the whole world.

As Pope Francis reminds us, “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120). This is no passive matter. “Every Christian is challenged, here and now to be actively engaged,” he adds and then challenges us: “Saint Paul, after his encounter with Jesus Christ, ‘immediately proclaimed Jesus’ (Acts 9:20; cf. 22:6-21). So what are we waiting for?”