The Baptism of Our Lord
Isaiah 42:1-4, 67-
With today’s feast of The Baptism of Our Lord we conclude our celebration of Christmas. God has shared our humanity. We can come to know through our human love the Divine, the love that created us.
Matthew has given us the child’s name, Jesus, and told us he is Emmanuel, God, who is with us. Before he begins his ministry Matthew leads us to know more about Jesus. Through the opening between heaven and earth we hear ‘a daughter of a voice’, i.e. an echo of a word spoken in heaven. Daniel Harrington’s, "The Gospel of Matthew" (Sarcra Pagina), tells us that in these words from heaven biblical figures are given to help us understand the person and activity of Jesus. This is the Beloved, my son, the one in whom I am pleased. The Davidic King is the adopted son of God; Isaac, the Beloved (Gen. 22:12); and the suffering servant of Isaiah (42:1), the one in whom God is well pleased.
Today’s feast is not about our Baptism. But in our Baptisms when the perfumed oil is abundantly spread over our heads and its fragrance fills the senses of those around us, there is a revelation of who we are! At times in the liturgy we will be incensed, when we are brought to church on our final journey to the cemetery we will be surrounded by the fragrance of incense. These moments remind us of the dignity given us at Baptism when it was revealed who we are: prophets, priests, kings or queens, Other Christs. A prayer I have heard accompany the anointing with Chrism prays boldly, "Remember who you are, and the anointing on your body, raise you head….you are another Christ." Our dignity as chosen and loved by the Father is fixed. We go from the font to love as Christ loved, to see the world and one another through the eyes of Christ, to be Christ in our world.
Consider the revelations that Matthew gives us about the person of Jesus, and remember the revelation proclaimed over you at your Baptism. With Jesus let us go forward to show the Love Divine in the flesh of our humanity. In the most ordinary, frustrating and difficult paths you may walk remember ‘who you are, the anointing on your body, raise your head….you are another Christ.’
Fr. William Murphy, CP, is pastor of St. Joseph’s Monastery parish in Baltimore, Maryland.