By his incarnation, Jesus has brought about the marriage between God and humanity in his person. Today we celebrate the baptism of the Lord. He did not have sin or any need to be baptized by John the Baptist. John’s baptism was a symbolic washing which relived Israel’s crossing of the red sea in which God saved Israel and destroyed their enemies. It is an act of repentance and conversion, symbolizing the passage from the life of sin, to life with God, involving keeping of God’s commandments, which is a covenanted life. It was a pledge to live for God and welcome the things of God. It was within this context that John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus that He is the “One” coming after him, who is mightier than him, who would baptize with the Holy Spirit. Jesus did not have to submit himself to John’s baptism. All the same, Jesus subjected himself to John’s baptism, to fulfill all righteousness. St. Mark tells us that on coming up out of the water, the heavens were torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descended upon him. A voice came from the heavens to bear witness to him saying: “ You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
A look at our first reading, shows a clear fulfillment of what the prophet Isaiah narrated from the distant past. It is about the first song of the Servant of the Lord, which describes an ideal One who will bring true justice to humanity, not through military power and violence, but by his gentle and peaceful personality. Here, we see that the Father’s voice from the heavens points Jesus out as that Servant, who will not be crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. He is the one, who will neither break a bruised reed, nor quench a smoldering wick, until he establishes justice on the earth. He is the one who will open the eyes of the blind, and release prisoners from confinement (Isaiah 42:1-7). By so doing, Jesus will treat the poor, the weak and the sinners with mercy and compassion. Through his life of love, he will establish the reign of God and bring it to culmination through his death on the cross.
Jesus began his earthly ministry with his baptism at the Jordan in the hands of John the Baptist. With this, one can see that the preparation for Jesus’ ministry includes the work of the Baptist who paves the way for the baptism of Jesus during which, he is declared to be the beloved Son of God. As the beloved Son of God, Jesus by his baptism, sanctifies the waters of baptism and makes it a sacrament through which those who undergo it might become adopted sons and daughters of God. Baptism frees us from original sin as well as actual sins committed before baptism takes place. It becomes for us the gate-way into God’s Kingdom. We become children of God and members of His Household, the Holy Church. By Christ’s baptism, he has sanctified the waters of baptism so that through it, we can have a share in his own life and enter into his life, death and resurrection. By putting on Christ, we can become a new creation in his Spirit. Those who are baptized into Christ must resemble him.
This is the good news that St. Peter proclaimed to Cornelius and his household in our second reading. This is the good news to each and every one of us today that in the person of Jesus Christ, God is offering His peace and Love to each of us. By our baptism into Christ, we are already children of God. For that reason, let us take seriously the vows we made in our own baptism. Reject sin, reject evil; let us say always “no” to Satan and all his deadly and evil works. Always say ‘yes’ to God, pledge and give undivided loyalty to God, to His Son, Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, truth and holiness.
Having celebrated the baptism of the Lord, we continue with the ordinary liturgical time of the year. United with Jesus in baptism, let us journey with him in every moment of our lives. Let us live in union with him, imitate his life, journey with him, and be attentive to the formation he gives us as he forms us in the footsteps of his disciples. The main purpose of his coming is to make us children of God. This is what we become by the virtue of our baptism. May God empower us now and forever. Amen.