Dear Friends in Christ,
Today the season of Christmastide draws to a close. It reaches a wonderful climax in a definitive event in the Lord’s life: his baptism in the Jordan. Jesus’ baptism was a remarkable event because the baptism offered by John the Baptist was for repentance. The immersion in the waters of the Jordan was a sign of conversion, or a person changing direction in life. John’s message was addressed to tax collectors, soldiers and ordinary men and women. It was a message of moral reform, of preparing for the coming of the Messiah. Jesus’ baptism is a baptism of solidarity with sinners and began his public life and in this moment God is revealed as Blessed Trinity.
The Trinity is unique to Christian faith. We are united to Muslims and Jews because we share a common belief in One God, but at this point our faith departs sharply from these two others faiths because we believe that God is three Persons in One God – The Holy Blessed Trinity. God is Father, God is Son and God is Holy Spirit. Jesus’ baptism was the manifestation, of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and the Son of God. The unveiling of Jesus’ nature and mission brought forth from the Father a tender and heart-warming affirmation: You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’
Jesus’ baptism was the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s Suffering Servant. He allowed himself to be numbered among sinners – he is truly ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ In today’s Gospel we are seeing unfolding before our very eyes the ‘fulfilling of all righteousness.’ We are witnesses of Jesus consenting to submit himself entirely to his Father’s will, which was his death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.
The coming down of the Spirit of Jesus’ baptism looked forward to the coming down of the Holy Spirit on us – a prelude, if you like, to the new creation. We commit ourselves to entering more deeply into the mystery of our baptism, praying about it, seeking to understand it and growing in our appreciation of this wonderful grace.