With the Feast of Epiphany behind us, the Church guides us along our journey of the Liturgical year, following along the life of Christ, taking us immediately into the celebration of His Baptism. In our minds it is easy to make the progression of His birth to His baptism, but we must remember that Christ was 30 years old when He stepped into the Jordan River and was baptized by a reluctant Saint John the Baptist, who felt he was not even worthy to unstrap the sandals from Christ’s feet.
Though Christ was born free of Original Sin, He submitted to baptism so as to set an example for the rest of us. Christ also did it so that He could institute the Sacrament of baptism…With the voice of God from above, and the Spirit descending upon Him… Christ’s flesh actually blessed the waters…and made them Holy… conferring the power of True Baptism and instituting the sacrament for the rest of us. Christ’s baptism was another Epiphany for man…it revealed to mankind His divinity…It was a moment of Divine manifestation. As we remember Christ’s baptism, the role of Saint John the Baptist should not go underplayed…for it was John’s baptism that moved men to an attitude of repentance and prepared them for the confession of their sins.
The Sacrament of Baptism is necessary for our salvation. We need it to become the adopted sons and daughters of God. It frees us from the darkness of original sin and incorporates us into God’s family. In the Sacrament of Baptism the entire Trinity intervenes once again on behalf of mankind. The baptism of Christ reveals to us the spiritual elements which also take place in our souls as we are baptized.
When Christ was baptized the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, much like our own baptism, when the Holy Spirit descends upon us and rests in our soul. When Christ was baptized, God’s voice could be heard proclaiming that Jesus was His ‘Beloved Son.’ At our own baptism, it is not so much the booming of God’s voice that we hear…but still... we become the adopted children of God… we become His family! And finally at the baptism of Christ , the heavens were opened…just as in our own baptism…the heavens are once again opened to us…as we have been washed from the stain of original sin, and now able to enter the kingdom of heaven… as long as we continue to seek out God’s mercy and live in His grace…but at least it is opened to us…baptism gives us a hope for the eternal.
Finally, Saint John the Baptist served as a herald of the One Who was to follow. In humility and obedience to the promptings of God in his soul, he was much like an arrow that points the path…He led his life with his eyes and heart focused only on the Lord. He lived his life as an example for the rest of mankind to follow…When asked if he was the Christ he replied… “I am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent to go in front of him.” He also shows us that in order to grow in Christ we must lessen ourselves. “He must grow greater, I must grow less.”(John 3, 26-31).
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 10-11