The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, 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 beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
Today’s Feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the conclusion of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. It is a feast of transition from Jesus’ hidden life to that of His public ministry. It also echoes the theme of the Epiphany in that the Baptism of the Lord is another manifestation announcing Jesus’ divinity to all of His first followers and to the disciples of John the Baptist.
Jesus did not need the baptism of John. John was baptizing as a call to and sign of interior repentance. Jesus had no need to repent. But, nonetheless, He comes to John. John resists at first but Jesus insists. By accepting the baptism of John, Jesus affirms all that John has said and done.
Jesus entered the waters of baptism; He was not baptized by the waters. By entering the waters, Jesus sanctified water and poured forth His grace making all water the future source of salvation.
The Baptism of Jesus was an epiphany. It was a moment of manifestation. As He emerged from the waters, “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 beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” His baptism was a way in which the Father introduced His Son and His Son’s mission to the world.
As we prepare to begin Ordinary Time, take some time to reflect on the words of today’s Gospel and hear our loving God saying to you, “You are my beloved, in you I am well pleased.”