JESUS BAPTISM: DIVINE SOLIDARITY AND THE NEED FOR HUMAN COOPERATION

HOMILY OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Isaiah 55:1-11, 1 John 5:1-9, Mark 1:7-11

The baptism of Jesus is a pointer to God’s interest in humanity. Though sinless, Jesus came to be baptised by the John the Baptist. By this singular act, he demonstrated his solidarity with us. This association of human and the divine is born out of God’s merciful design for us. However, people often ask, “Was it necessary that Jesus should be baptised since he is God and sinless?  The answer is simple, in order to correct the failure of Adam and Eve, God chose to become man. By his birth, he came to share in our humanity so that we may in turn share in his divinity.

According to St Gregory Nazianzen,

John baptizes, Jesus comes to him; perhaps to sanctify the Baptist himself, but certainly to bury the whole of the old Adam in the water; and before this and for the sake of this; to sanctify Jordan. As he is Spirit and flesh, so he consecrates us by Spirit and water.”[Office of the reading, baptism of the Lord]

Puts in the words of St Gregory,

Jesus goes up out of the water, for with himself he carries up the world and sees the heaven split open which Adam had shut against himself and all his posterity, as the gates of Paradise by the flaming sword.”

It is a usual practice that when one visits a prisoner with cooked food; he or she is told to taste it before it is given to the prisoner to eat. God will not allow us to be starved of his presence in our prisons of sin. To give us a new life and to set us free from the dungeon of sin, he has to demonstrate to us how to make our way through an escape route [baptism]. He is the Lord who leads by example.

Concretely, Jesus showed the Jews that they need to repent and be baptised. They need a change of attitude and a reconfigured mental set, for all have sinned. He submitted himself for baptism so as to teach us the path of humility and gentleness. This was confirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit in form of a dove. The dove symbolises gentleness. That was why the Father spoke, “You are my beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.” He is the Messiah, the king to come. Psalm 2:7. He is equally the Suffering servant in Isaiah 42:1 as fully described in the book of Isaiah chapter 53. He will humbly rule with gentleness.

Moreover, when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and saviour, we are simply giving him the chance to lead us by transferring us into the kingdom of sons and daughters of God. He gives us new names. He washes us clean and put his spirit within us. He raises us above every curses of sin. By the virtue of our baptism, we share in the threefold office of priests, kings and prophets.

For those who were baptised as infants, we live out the fullness of our baptism as we grow into the knowledge of who we are by the merit of the divine birth.

By our share in the life of Christ, may the Lord open up his heaven upon us and put his stamp upon our words and deeds. May we always enjoy the freedom which was won for us by our baptism into the life of Christ. Amen.

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