A voice came from heaven, saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:17
at the baptism of Jesus in the river Jordan,
you proclaimed him your beloved Son,
and anointed him with the Holy Spirit:
grant that all who are baptised into his name
may keep the covenant they have made,
and boldly confess him as Lord and Saviour;
who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.
- Isaiah 42:1-9
- Psalm 49
- Acts 10:34-43
- Matthew 3:13-17
- Isaiah 49:1-7
- Psalm 40:1-14
- 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
- John 1:29-42
The Baptism of Our Lord
After Jesus was baptised, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending on him like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Today’s Gospel is the final event of the Epiphany event: Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan River by John.
The Baptiser’s refusal at first to baptise Jesus and Jesus’ response to his refusal (a dialogue that appears only in Matthew’s Gospel) speaks to Matthew’s continuing theme of Jesus as the fulfillment of the First Testament prophecies. Jesus clearly did not need to be baptised. But his baptism by John is an affirmation that God was with this man Jesus in a very special way – at the Jordan River, Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled: “My
favour rests on him.” Jesus has come to identify with sinners, to bring them forgiveness; hence the propriety of Jesus’ acceptance of John’s baptism.
Baptism was a ritual performed by the Jews, usually for those who entered Judaism from another religion. It was natural that the sin-stained, polluted pagan should be “washed” in baptism, but no Jew could conceive of needing baptism, being born a son of Abraham, one of God’s chosen people and therefore assured of God’s salvation. But John’s baptism – a baptism affirmed by Jesus – was not one of initiation, but one of reformation, a rejection of sin in one’s own life and acknowledgment of one’s own need for conversion. In Christ, baptism becomes a sacrament of rebirth, a reception of new life.
In all the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ baptism, all four evangelists use a similar description of the scene at the Jordan when Jesus is baptised by John: The Spirit of God descended and rested upon him, “hovering” over him like a dove – as the Gospel story unfolds, the Spirit of God’s peace, compassion and love, will be the constant presence dwelling within and flowing forth from the Carpenter from Nazareth.
In baptism, we claim the name of Christian and embrace all that that holy name means: to live for others rather than for ourselves, in imitation of Christ.
Our baptism made each one of us the “servant” of today’s readings: to bring forth in our world the justice, reconciliation and enlightenment of Christ, the “beloved Son” and “favour” of God.
In baptism, we embrace that same Spirit that “hovers” over us, guiding us in our journey to God.
Liturgically, the Christmas season officially comes to an end with today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Now the same Spirit that “anoints” the Messiah for his mission calls us to be about the work of Christmas in this new year: to seek out and find the lost, to heal the hurting, to feed the hungry, to free the imprisoned, to rebuild families and nations, to bring the peace of God to all peoples everywhere. © Connections/MediaWorks
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