Happy Sunday! I read this article the other day and thought it looks at the Baptism of Our Lord in a slightly different light. You can almost feel the excitement of the author:
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord, which marks the official end of the Christmas season. It’s also an annual occasion for many to ask, “Why was Jesus baptized?” After all, he is the sinless, divine Son of God, and the baptism that John the Baptist administered was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).
Christian baptism is of course greater than John’s baptism, even as Jesus himself is far greater than John. Christian baptism not only forgives sins, but infuses the life of God into the soul, making us God’s children. And the origin of this sacrament is Jesus’ own baptism. Jesus had no need to be cleansed by the waters of baptism, for he had no sins to be washed away. Rather, he sanctified the waters by his descent into them.
Looking at the events (of Christ’s baptism) in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realized what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind’s guilt upon his shoulders; he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan. He inaugurated his public activity by stepping into the place of sinners. His inaugural gesture is an anticipation of the Cross. He is, as it were, the true Jonah who said to the crew of the ship, ”Take me and throw me into the sea” (Jon. 1:12) . . . The baptism is an acceptance of death for the sins of humanity, and the voice that calls out “This is my beloved Son” over the baptismal waters is an anticipatory reference to the Resurrection. This also explains why, in his own discourses, Jesus uses the word
“baptism” to refer to his death.
The baptism of the Lord also reminds us, of course, of our own baptism. The Church teaches that baptism not only lets us participate in Jesus’ victory over sin and death, but calls us to our own personal holiness and apostolate (sharing our faith). When you boil it all down, this is the essence of how we fulfill our baptismal mandate to become saints.
Who are the saints? The word “saint” derives from the Greek term hagios, which means “the holy ones.” Being a holy person just means being, with God’s considerable help, the person you were created to be. The Bible says, “without holiness no one will see the Lord”. This is also why we need to share our faith! If we want everyone we know and love to get to heaven, if we want them to see Jesus, they must become saints as well.
The world tends to value the letters at the end of people’s names—M.D., M.B.A., Ph.D. But Catholics care most of all about the letters we hope one day will come before our names: “St.” This was the ultimate reason the Lord was baptized, establishing the sacrament, and it’s why we are baptized, too.
May the Lord give you His peace,