John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
As he preached he said, “The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will change your life. I’m baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out.”
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
For the Church this feast marks the end of the Christmas season... I remember once talking about this to a class of Y5 children, one of whom remarked, “Jesus grew up pretty quick didn’t he, last week he was still a baby!”
This comment often comes to mind as we celebrate this feast. Many of us were baptised as babies, so the record of the event may be no more than a photograph somewhere in an album... but what about us, have we grown up in our faith, in our love and knowledge of Jesus? What does our Baptism mean to us today, right now? Do we ever reflect on what difference it makes in our life? Does it make any?
Taking time to read today’s gospel I noticed several signs which have helped me think more seriously about my responsibility to live out my Baptism.
First, Jesus was baptised by John in the River Jordan... free flowing water; this engenders a sense of newness, of difference, of a chance to begin to see things differently, does our faith in Jesus lead us to see, act, think differently from those around us? Secondly, as Jesus came out of the water the Holy Spirit descended on him; we too have received the Holy Spirit. How do we listen to his promptings in our lives and choices? Are we aware of the gifts we have received and how do we use them in our daily lives? Thirdly, Jesus was proclaimed, “Beloved Son” by the Father. Do we act as sons and daughters of God? What does this really mean to us? How is our prayer life growing? Are we recognisable as gospel people? Does our way of living show joy, hope faith in God? Jesus knew the Father and spent time in his presence do I?
The Baptism of Jesus is an opportune feast at the start of a New Year when we can choose to change the way we live out our faith. Do we have the courage to begin with small steps seeing, as God does, the wonderful creation we are? After his Baptism Jesus began his mission... what are we doing?
Pat Devine - Salesian Sister
Thank you Lord for the gift of our Baptism, thank you for new opportunities to decide how we live our lives. Help us to not just to dream about making changes in how we think and act, but to have the courage and perseverance to bite the bullet of change! Lord, you know us and love us, strengthen our faith, increase our love, give us the courage to live as Gospel people here and now.