The Baptism of Jesus: Identification, Humility and Proclamation
Date Published: January 10, 2015
The feast of the Baptism of our Lord signifies the formal end of Christmas. Today begins the Ordinary Time of this liturgical year. And during Ordinary Time, we meditate on the “ordinary” circumstances in the life and ministry of Jesus. It is fitting then that we begin in the mystery of the Baptism of Jesus as an inauguration of his public “ordinary” life.
The life of Jesus went public appearance by the event of “public” affirmation of his Sonship from the Almighty Father. The favored words of “the voice” from above has turned not only “our chairs of comfort” but has turned ourselves to Jesus whom we acknowledge as our savior.
Allow me to ruminate on three words which matters much around the meaning of the baptism of Jesus. And they find relevance in ourselves also as we read the Gospel against our own commitment to the Son of God.
First, identification. Jesus’ baptism is a graphic demonstration of his identification to our nature as sinful. Yet, we know, Jesus is God and he has no sin. But because of God’s love to us, he did not hesitate to choose the side of our nature. His being human, Word-made-flesh mystery finds another affirmation by his willingness to bring his own humanity with our humanity. He wanted to be identified to us. We usually say “We cannot relate into an emotion unless we feel it ourselves”. And God took also the biggest step to go down into our level in order for us to relate in our lives and in the ebb and flow of human life.
Second, humility. In humility, Jesus allowed himself to be baptized by John. In humility he took something that he does not necessarily need to take. Why? Because his identification as man to the rest has a goal: our salvation. He take humbly embracing our nature because he has the power to lift us up from our state of sin. When a person helps somebody, he has to stoop down and to offer help. He cannot offer help without bending; thus without humility. And God, sending a message enabling himself to humbly bend down by his humanity, asks us to cooperate in the grace God is offering to us.
Third, proclamation. This goes on to the third point in our meditation and that is, the Lord’s baptism inaugurates his ministry of proclamation, the ministry of invitation to respond to the grace of God. Jesus, by his baptism, goes public sending to all people that the Kingdom of God is near at hand. He sends us invitation then to come. How? Through conversion! The Kingdom of God is proclaimed and calls us to conversion. This is the “cooperation” part which God is asking us. Christ is proclaimed, how are you to respond to it?
Now, the challenge comes in. We have accepted faith, a legacy of our ancestors who were baptized in the Name of Jesus. We have inherited this great legacy. How are we keeping it? Have we lived it up in a way we deservedly give justice to the will of God. Yes, we are predominantly Christian nation. But, is it in praxis? Or is it just merely nominal? Let us then examine our baptismal promises which fittingly be renewed not only today but everyday. (Reyes, OSA)