Baptism of the Lord

The Baptism of Jesus - Paulo Veronese

Looking back over the last six weeks, we have traveled far as we have reflected upon becoming vulnerable so Jesus can come anew into our hearts and lives. Even last week we saw the Magi move deeper than simply finding God in the stars or even in scripture. We saw the Magi encounter Jesus in the flesh as a child and we relate to this when we encounter Jesus in the flesh in the Eucharist. Truly, we welcomed Him into our hearts.

Today, the Baptism of the Lord, marks the end of the Christmas Season. One would think the readings would be about the child Jesus but today’s gospel reading (Mark 1: 7-11) speaks about Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. This day our journey through Advent and Christmas culminates in Jesus accepting His identity and mission through His baptism. In turn, we are reminded of our baptism. We are invited to accept more fully our mission and identity in Jesus.

The words in the gospel “On coming up out of the water…” gives indication that Jesus must have been submerged in the Jordan River. I can envision myself watching from afar as Jesus walks down the banks of the river and out into the deep waters where John the Baptist stood with water about chest high. My mind’s eye reveals others watching too, some in the water and some standing on the shore. The waters are muddy, filled with our sins, and Jesus is wading through all of them. He, being the Son of God, has no need of repentance, but freely chooses to receive John’s baptism so He can identify with sinners (us) as part of the larger plan of the Father to save us from our sins. Jesus chooses to be immersed in the ugliness of our sins.

Freeze frame for a moment and think about what it means to be immersed in something. All of us can relate to being so engrossed in thought or deed to the point where we are often not aware of our surroundings. How many of us struggled to get back to work after a long Christmas break? Our office experienced one of “those” days on Monday morning. Nothing seemed to go right. Our minds were still on vacation, immersed in what seemed to be a different world but there we sat in front of our computers, trying to force our brains into a work-based frame of mind!!!

Jesus was immersed in our sins, identifies with us and chooses to love us despite ourselves. Because Jesus has done this, we too are given a choice. We can choose to be immersed in Him. It may take some re-orientation and we may often feel like it is a Monday morning after a long break. But, if we take that first step, acknowledge our brokenness and sins, we can be freed from all the bad habits which stand in our way of total communion with Jesus.

As we strive to be more immersed in the love and mercy of Jesus, let us always remember our own baptisms, our identity as children of God and our mission to love as Jesus loves us.

Image: The Baptism of Jesus by Paolo Veronese

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