What better way to bring Christmas to a close than with the celebration of the moment where Jesus was consecrated to his ministry… the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord. Whereas Advent is a season of expectation and preparation, Christmas is the season where prophecy and expectation are fulfilled… the Christ we have been waiting for is here!
Psalm 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30
Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
first reading, from Second Isaiah, is a prophecy of hope for the people
of Israel held captive in Exile in Babylon. To our Christian hears,
however, it also sounds a lot like John the Baptist preaching the coming
of the Lord! In both its Hebrew and Christian perspective, it’s a
message of hope…a prophecy of fulfillment. Just as in the time of the
Exodus, the Lord has heard the cry of his people and promises to set
things right. This is a momentous occasion, as heard by the exuberant
language of the text. The Lord will deliver us! Our Psalm asks as both
a confirmation of the Lord’s greatness and a prayer of thanksgiving.
second reading comes from Paul’s letter to Titus. Titus, like Timothy,
was an acolyte of Paul’s doing his best to form the large growing
Christian community on the Mediterranean island of Crete. This is a
monumental task, so Paul is providing encouragement and guidance through
the example of Jesus. Paul says, “He saved us through the bath of
rebirth…” Baptism, so that “we might be justified by his grace.”
Baptism is a new beginning, a new hope.
This is the new hope
represented in our Gospel. As this is the year we focus on the Gospel
of Luke, we hear his version of the Baptism of Jesus by John. John
announces the coming of the Christ, and then we experience God’s
affirmation of Jesus. This is not only a moment of revelation for those
who witnessed it, but it marks a turning point in Jesus’ life… the
moment he accepts his mission and begins his ministry. God’s voice not
only was an affirmation to the people, but no doubt a comfort to Jesus
as he takes on the task for which he was born.
will. Jesus was born to fulfill a great mission… the son of man that
would reconcile the people back to God. No small task. Yet with such
great expectations since before his birth, we sometimes forget that
Jesus had a choice. This is why our celebration of the Baptism of the
Lord is so important. For it is this moment that sets Jesus on the path
that, while ultimately leading to his own death, leads us to salvation.