The young son of a Baptist minister was in church one morning when he saw for the first time baptism by immersion. He was greatly interested in it, and the next morning proceeded to baptize his three cats in the bathtub. The youngest kitten bore it very well, and so did the younger cat, but the old family tom cat rebelled. The old feline struggled with the boy, clawed and tore his skin, and finally got away. With considerable effort the boy caught the old tom again and proceeded with the “ceremony.” But the cat acted worse than ever, clawing and spitting, and scratching the boy’s face. Finally, after barely getting the cat splattered with water, he dropped him on the floor in disgust and said, “Fine, be a Methodist if you want to!”
Dear Friends! We celebrated the Epiphany of Jesus last Sunday. When we think of Epiphany we think of the wise men visiting the baby Jesus in Bethlehem but “Epiphany” means “revelation” so when we celebrated the Epiphany of Jesus we celebrated Jesus being revealed and shown to the world. Today we celebrate another epiphany of Jesus which occurred at his baptism when his heavenly Father spoke and said, “This is my Beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17)
Jesus baptism by John was a very important event in his life. 1st it was a moment of decision. It marked the end of Jesus’ private life which had prepared him for his public ministry. 2nd it was a moment of identification with his people in their God-ward movement initiated by John the Baptist. 3rd it was a moment of approval. Jesus might have been waiting for a signal of approval from his Heavenly Father, and during his baptism Jesus got this approval of Himself as the Father’s “beloved Son.”
4th it was a moment of conviction. At this baptism, Jesus received certainties (assurances) from heaven about His identity and the nature of His mission: a) He was the “Chosen One” and the “beloved Son of God”; b) his mission of saving mankind would be fulfilled, not by conquering the Romans, but by becoming the “suffering servant” of God, i.e., by the cross. 5th it was a moment of equipment. When He descended on Jesus in the form of a dove (symbol of gentleness), the Holy Spirit equipped Jesus with the power of preaching the “Good News” that God is a loving Father, Who wants to save all human beings from their sins through His Son Jesus.
The message we learn from today’s feast: (1) The baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity. It reminds us of who we are and Whose we are. By Baptism we become sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, heirs of heaven and temples of the Holy Spirit.
(2) Jesus’ baptism reminds us also of our mission: a) to experience the presence of God within us, to acknowledge our own dignity as God’s children, and to appreciate the Divine Presence in others by honoring them, loving them and serving them in all humility; b) to live as the children of God in thought, word and action. c) to lead holy and transparent Christian lives and not to desecrate our bodies (the temples of the Holy Spirit and members of Jesus’ Body), by impurity, injustice, intolerance, jealousy or hatred; d) to accept both the good and the bad experiences of life as the gifts of a loving Heavenly Father for our growth in holiness; e) to grow daily in intimacy with God by personal and family prayers, by meditative reading of the Word of God, by participating in the Holy Mass, and by frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
(3) This is also a day for us to renew our Baptismal promises, consecrating ourselves to the Holy Trinity and “rejecting Satan and all his empty promises,” which our profane world is constantly offering us through its mass-media of communication.
Let us ask Our Lord today to make us faithful to our Baptismal promises. Let us thank Him for the privilege of being joined to His mission of preaching the “Good News” by our transparent Christian lives of love, mercy, service and forgiveness.