THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
During the Epiphany last Sunday, we reflected on the manifestation of the Lord to the nations represented by the magi and the shepherds. Before ending the joyful celebration of the Christmas season, we are given a glimpse of another divine manifestation: In this Sunday of the Lord’s baptism, we see the “Trinitarian theophany” or the manifestation of the three persons of the Trinity in one single event: Jesus who was being baptized, the Father uttering His voice and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove. The Lord’s baptism happened before He embarked on His public ministry. The same “Trinitarian theophany” would occur again towards the end of the public ministry of Jesus in the Transfiguration. Between these two theophanies was Jesus’ proclamation of God’s Kingdom through His words and works.
After we have opened all our Christmas gifts, the Church reminds us that the greatest gift next to our life is our faith which is given to us in baptism. In the liturgical calendar, after the Lord’s Baptism the Church enters the Ordinary Time. After all the festivities of Christmas and New Year, we embrace once again the ordinariness of life in witnessing our faith. During His baptism before His public ministry, Jesus was reminded by His Father of His identity: “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” As we enter into the simplicity of this season, we are also reminded of that profound reality namely our true identity given to us when we were baptized as if the Father was saying to us personally “You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.”
It was important to Jesus to accept His identity which would be the reservoir of His strength during His public ministry. During His intimate moments with His Father in prayer, Jesus would go back again and again to that special moment when He heard His Father’s voice. In fact He needed to hear the same voice again during the Transfiguration before He could carry on the most painful days of His earthly life.
During this ordinary season, like Jesus we carry in our hearts the Father’s voice so that whatever happens to us this year, we believe that the Father will always be there for us the way He was with Jesus all the time. It means that we are ready to accept the different theophanies of God in our life. We welcome Him as He manifests Himself to us in life or in death, in pain or in joy, in the sunshine or in the rain, in light or in darkness, in good times and in bad. These are the many facets of life which reveal to us the many faces of God. We just have to be ready to accept His creative surprises in our life.
Our baptism is both a gift and a responsibility. As a gift, we became children of God, we call Him our Father and we are heirs of the Kingdom; as a responsibility, we live a Christian life, a life which is patterned after His Son.
I am God's beloved, that's who I am. I live it, that's what I become! It is my greatest identity!