Today’s celebration of the Baptism of the Lord marks the end of the Christmas season for our Church. As you know, we celebrated the birth of our Lord on December 25. The following week the Church celebrated the Feast of theHoly Family. Then, the Church celebrated the Epiphany which was the celebration of Our Lord’s manifestation through the light of a mysterious star. Today we celebrate Jesus' immersion into the waters of the river Jordon.
In today’s Gospel passage (Luke 3:15-16, 21-22), John the Baptist is fulfilling his mission baptizing people in the Jordon River, when Jesus comes and submits Himself for baptism.
Why was Jesus baptized? John’s baptism was a baptism for repentance, but Jesus had no need of repentance. He was sinless.
First, we see Jesus was about to embark on His ministry and it was fitting that He be publically recognized by John as the One who would fulfill the baptism of John. The people were filled with expectation and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. By baptizing Jesus, John world put an end to this question.
The baptism of Jesus signifies that we are becoming a new creation in Christ. In our baptism, we Christians are born again as members of Our Lord’s Church. We become Our Lord’s chosen people.
As God said to Our Lord in His baptism, “You are my Son in which I am well pleased,” so God wants to say the same words to each one of us. Through our baptism God calls each one of us to be His sons and daughters.
Yet, let us be reminded that, unlike the beliefs of some of our Protestant brothers and sisters, baptism doesn’t mean automatic entrance into heaven. No! baptism is only the beginning! In baptism, we are to be a people set apart from the world.
In today’s second reading (Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7), Saint Paul says, “The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.”
My brothers and sisters, the worst thing we can do to ourselves is to deny the gift of our baptism by choosing to not live our baptismal call. How many Catholics today turn away from Christ in their baptism and instead unite themselves to the world? How many souls today are lost because people live for the flesh?
When each one of us was baptized, we (or our parents and godparents for us) made a profession of faith. In our baptism we make a promise to reject satan, all his works, and all his empty promises. This is a promise we must make each day of our lives!
We are to die to our sinful nature so that we can live with Our Lord in His resurrected nature. When we commit grave sin, or what the Church refers as “mortal” sin, we separate ourselves from God, and without repentance we risk going to hell for all eternity. This is why God has given us the sacrament of confession. Use this sacrament and strive to sin no more!
My brothers and sisters, as we come together this day to celebrate the Baptism of Jesus, let us reflect on the gift of our own baptism. Let us renew our efforts to be freed from the sin that holds the world captive. Let us strive to live lives of holiness and purity so that one day we too will hear the words, “You are my beloved Son (daughter). With you, I am well pleased.” God bless you.