FR EMMANUEL INEDU OCHIGBO
Today, the Church marks the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus Christ. The celebration of the feast of the baptism of Jesus Christ also marks the end of the Christmas season, and it ushers in the beginning of the Ordinary Time of the liturgical year. Jesus Christ identified with human beings at the beginning of the Christmas season when he was born in the flesh on Christmas Day. Now, at the end of the Christmas season, he is identifying with human beings by being born in the Spirit through Baptism.
The account of the baptism of Jesus Christ is recorded in the gospel according to Matthew, the gospel according to Mark, and the gospel according to Luke. For this year, we read the account presented by Luke. One thing that is unique to Luke’s account of the baptism of Jesus is that Luke draws our attention to the fact that Jesus Christ was baptized with all the people. It shows that from the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus identified with sinners, not to encourage them to remain in their sins but to bring them out of sin. He went into the water with sinners and he brought them out of the water to the safety of the dry land. In his first encounter with sinners, Jesus did not judge them, he did not condemn them, and he did not despise them; instead, he identified with them in order to save them. Today, as Christians, when we encounter those we see as sinners, how do we relate with them? Do we judge them? Do we condemn them? Do we despise them? Or like Jesus Christ, do we identify with them not to encourage them to remain in sin but to lovingly share our light with them?
The baptism of Jesus Christ also came as the recreation of humanity and as the recreation of the earth. In the book of Genesis 1:2, the Spirit of God hovered over the surface of the waters in the beginning of creation. Similarly, at the baptism of Jesus, at the recreation of humanity and the earth, the Spirit of God hovered over the river Jordan in the form of a dove. In the beginning, in the book of Genesis, God created the first man Adam, but he disobeyed God, he sinned. At the time of the recreation, at the baptism of Jesus, the new Adam, Jesus Christ, repaired the guilt of the first Adam.
The celebration of the baptism of Jesus also reminds us of our own baptism. At the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, and the voice of God the Father spoke from heaven. Similarly, at our baptism, the Blessed Trinity finds a home in us as we are baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. At the baptism of Jesus, the voice from heaven revealed Jesus as the beloved Son of God; in the same way, at our baptism, we become the beloved children of God. Jesus has always been the Son of God, he did not have to become the Son of God, the baptism was the event where who he has always been was revealed to us. In our case, we become the adopted children of God at our baptism. Jesus is the Son of God by nature, but we become the children of God by adoption at our baptism.
My dearly beloved Christ, today, as we come to the end of the Christmas season and as we celebrate our spiritual rebirth in Jesus Christ, let us pray that God may help us during this year to become more like Jesus in our thoughts, in our desires, in our words, and in our actions, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.