• RevShirleyMurphy

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord



He bowed his head in humility as an example, not because he suffered imperfections


Who would not want a doctor who, before he cuts, lifts his shirt a little, shows his own scar, and says to the patient, “I had the same. It’s going to be alright”? What soldier would not be just a little braver, stand a little taller, seeing medals for valor on his commander’s uniform? We want our heroes, our leaders, and our guides to lead through personal example. To have been there. To have done that. And we want our Savior to do the same. To empathise. To participate. To identify. To accompany. Actions resonate more than words.


Our sinless God “became” sin, in the words of St. Paul. Jesus identifies with sin but never sinned. Jesus carries sin but is not a sinner. Why? Because to become sin is to become man. In order for God to enter into human reality, He had to identify with all that sin entails. God wanted to stand with us shoulder to shoulder. He did not fake becoming man. He really became man. And if God came to forgive sins and sinners, and to shed His blood for them on the cross, He had to bear the burden they bore yet retain His perfection.


This is why our sinless God was baptised on today’s feast. God lays to the side His perfection and dignity and bows His head in the dirty waters of a river. He lined up with sinners to receive in humility what He did not need. To attend a school whose subjects He had mastered. Our God knew the value of empathy. He knew the power of example. And He knew that His ministry to mankind had to start not on a golden throne but in the mud with other men just trying to start again and again and again.


The fullness of the Holy Trinity, first revealed more subtly at the Annunciation, is present and spoken for at the Lord’s baptism. The Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, hovers. The voice of God the Father intones favor toward His Son. And the Son enters into the essential Christian pact with man—I will become like you so that you can become like me. Sins will be taken away through water and blood. I will suffer for your benefit. This is the promise. And the Church’s priests will carry on the baptising and forgiving and consecrating until the sun sets for the last time. God comes to us in many ways, but most intensely through the Sacraments. Jesus’ actions prove this.

The Baptism of Jesus is a celebration of the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus. With great joy, the Father announces from heaven that he is pleased with his beloved Son. The Holy Spirit is present at Jesus’ baptism as the Spirit was present at our baptism. Let us recommit to our baptismal promise as we hear God calling us “beloved.” With hearts and hands and voices, let us constantly call out to God who will never abandon us.

Amid this Coronavirus pandemic and so much uncertainty in our world, our identity as a part of God’s family strengthens us in our daily struggles. During this week, let us reflect on what Thomas Merton says in this prayer: “My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does, in fact, please you.”


Sources

Baptism in Water and The Spirit - Brian N Winslade

Christian Baptism - John Murray

Baptism with The Holy Spirit - Jack Hayford

The Bible and Baptism - Isaac Augustine Morales OP

Luminaries: Twenty Lives that Illuminate the Christian Way - Rowan Williams

New Manners and Customs of Bible Time - Ralph Gower

Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration - Pope Benedict XVI

144 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All