A REFLECTION OF THE HEART
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Year C)
A Reflection: by Rev. Fr. Allen Baclor Abadines
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah,
John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened,
and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you, I am well pleased.”
Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This Feast concludes the celebration of the Christmas season. On Monday we are definitely back to the ordinary time. It is most appropriate that we end up the celebration of the Christmas season with the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord because it serves as an affirmation to our reflection of who this child was to us i.e. He is the Son of God.
One may wonder why is there a need for our Lord Jesus to approach John the Baptist for baptism. With our knowledge about the sacrament of baptism, we know that it is being conferred to a person that he may be freed from original sin. Therefore, Baptism is closely linked to the idea of the remission of sins. In the case of our Lord Jesus, however, there was no sin to be forgiven. Jesus, though human like us, is also Divine hence perfect. Why then Jesus asked John the Baptist for baptism?
Our Lord Jesus, in the Gospel of Matthew, provided us with an explanation himself. Matthew 3:15, when John the Baptist asked Jesus why he is coming to him for baptism when in fact he was the one who needs to be baptized by him, Jesus replied, “allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” It tells us that what Jesus was saying was that everything is in accordance with the will of the Father. The good news is that we are part of God’s plan and design. We are part of the whole equation. It was not by accident but it was planned. God in his infinite love and mercy wills that we all be saved.
Going back to the baptism of Jesus, it tells us something more profound. Jesus’ baptism is actually part of the Epiphany of our Lod. This is the time when Jesus’ true identity is revealed. At that time, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard by everyone present that says, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) This text is very important because just as our Lord Jesus was to begin his public ministry, it is but fitting that he be introduced properly. Such an introduction should powerfully be declared by a someone who is an authority i.e. the Father himself. No less than the Father affirms Jesus is God. “He is my beloved Son, so listen to him.” It was God’s proclamation of Jesus’ divinity. He is no ordinary person. We now have a tangible idea of who God is in the person of Jesus. And for the first time, the presence of the Trinity was revealed to mankind. Jesus is a manifestation of God’s presence among us.
Now, how is the baptism of Jesus relevant to us today? The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord serves as an invitation to all of us to contemplate on the importance of our own baptism. The Sacrament of Baptism is God’s expression of his infinite mercy and unconditional love. We were given a chance. We were redeemed. Jesus commanded his disciples to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We realized our worth. We are loved. God has restored the fullness of life in us. We gained our dignity back as persons. We regain our dignity as sons and daughters of God.
At the end of our lives, if we remain faithful to the will of the Father, God will say of us all, “These are my beloved children, whom I am well pleased.” Whilst Jesus will say to us all, “Come you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)