The Baptism of the Lord
Have you experienced an event in your life which, at the time, made a deep impression upon you, only to fade with time into meaninglessness? Now, the power from that event is lost, hidden, buried deep within you. Do you wish to recover the meaning of what happened to you?
Follow the Gospel of Jesus’ baptism, and you will discover the meaning of your baptism.
Our baptism introduces us as one with Jesus as brothers and sisters, and “children of God.” This is real, but beyond our senses and understanding. It is a matter of pure faith and trust in the love of God for you. That may be a faith challenge in itself! The same voice that Jesus heard spoken to Him speaks within us with the receiving of the sacrament of Baptism.
“This is my beloved son/daughter with whom I am well pleased.” Mt.3:17
Follow the Gospel of Jesus’ baptism, and you will discover the meaning of yours.
What is a common experience we have, no matter what age we may be?
We seek to be filled with hope, to have guarantees for what is coming next for us?
In John the Baptist’s time people were desperately in need of hope! There were no signs that anything was going to change in their lives. They lived under the fear of persecution by the ruling powers of Rome.
Nevertheless, there was a lingering tradition through which people were hoping for a Messiah. “Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit…” (Isaiah 43: 1) They knew from their ancestry that a Messiah was coming. But Who, from Where, and How would this come to be?
John the Baptist would lead them to the true Messiah the Son of God. Leading people to hope!
Could that be a way of describing our baptismal call? Leading people to hope?
What leads people to hope?
Consider statements like these as leading people to hope:
“You can trust me.”
“I am available to talk.”
“This is what my faith tells me.”
“I will be on your side.”
“I will respect your wishes.”
“I will be truthful with you.”
“I will encourage you to be your best self.”
“I will make it easier for you to tell the truth.”
“I am able to understand.”
“I forgive you.”
“Let me know what happens, and we can talk some more.”
“Your differences make me want to listen to you.”
“I am sorry.”
“I am with you when you are weak, and helpless or, defenseless.”
Jesus wanted to be baptized by John in order to show everyone that He is like us in all things but sin. We read about this when people talked about Jesus eating dinner with known sinners. How he even recruited a tax collector to be one of his disciples.
Why were we baptized?
First, God chose us we did not choose God. It was out of love that you and I were baptized into the family of God. Jesus wants to draw close to each one of us. By being baptized with the hundreds of others that day in the Jordan River, He wanted to identify with us, He even identified with the effects of sin that we experience: suffering, disappointment, rejection, discount, unfulfilled promises and expectations.
Second, Jesus wants us to continue the mission which he began, when the Spirit led him into the desert for 40 days, to find the strength to face the devil in every circumstance of threat.
Through our paying attention to the Word of Life, through our example and words, and our behavior towards others, we can lead others to hope. That mission comes through our oneness with Christ in our Baptism in Him. What a mission we have!
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P., is a member of the Passionist Community in Detroit, Michigan.