Baptism of the Lord
Readings: (1st: Ish 40, 1-11; Ps: 103; 2nd: Titus2, 11-14. 3, 4-7; Gos: Lk 3, 15-16. 21-22)
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast marks the definitive end of Christmas season and the formal beginning of ordinary time of the church’s liturgical cycle, C. Today’s celebration recalls the history of the Lord’s own baptism. In a special way, it reminds us of the importance of the sacrament of baptism in our lives as Christians.
The first reading today is a message of hope and consolation to all God’s people. Christ, the anointed one of God is with us to bring us healing. Most importantly, He is here to restore our peace. Isaiah puts it this way: “Console my people, console them…here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him, the prize of his victory is here with him…” This is exactly the ministry that Christ was anointed and empowered for by the Holy Spirit that rested on him like a dove during his baptism.
In our second reading, Paul reminds us through his letter to Titus, that “God saved us by the cleansing water of baptism and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour.” Indeed, through his own baptism, Christ sanctified and opened the fountain of baptism for us. He also initiated our redemptive process. Hence, through our own baptism in Christ, we are admitted into the redemptive process for our salvation.
In today’s gospel from Luke, God the Father testified: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” During this baptism, God anointed Christ with the Holy Spirit and empowered him for his mission of bringing healing and peace to all nations. It was necessary for Christ to be baptized in order to underscore the importance of the sacrament of baptism as the foundation for all other sacraments. However, it is very important to note that the definition of Baptism as: “The sacrament that washes away original sin…” does not in any way suggest that Christ was affected by original sin, or needed to be cleansed from any sin through the baptism of John the Baptist. The letter to the Hebrews tells us that: “Christ was like us in all things except sin” (Heb 4, 15).
So, He was not tainted in any way by Original Sin due to the fall of Adam and Eve. According to Matthew’s account, Christ gives us the reason for allowing himself to be baptized: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this, to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3, 15). Therefore, by accepting to be baptized by John the Baptist, Christ manifested his full humanity, yet, without undermining his divinity. In order words, he fully identifies with us, and His baptism was a sign of solidarity with us whom he came save. It was a sign that he himself was ready to go through any ordeal in order to guarantee our salvation. Most importantly, through his baptism Christ initiated our redemptive process, which he will finally seal with his blood on the cross.
In conclusion, on this day therefore, it is very important for us to reflect on our own baptism. We need to reflect especially on how well we have observed and kept our baptismal vows. How faithful have we been to God in terms of keeping these promises. Are we still saying, “I do” to questions like: “Do you reject Satan? Do you reject sin? Do you believe in one God and one Holy Catholic Church? Do you believe in Jesus Christ the only begotten son of God? Can God testify that I am truly His child who does his will and keeps his baptismal promises? Today the church offers us a new opportunity to renew our commitment to Christ in whose name we were baptized. While we reflect on Christ’s baptism and ours today, let us ask God to renew his spirit in us as we continue our walk with Christ this year for our salvation.
Peace be with you!