Baptism of the Lord Sunday

the-baptism-of-christ-1581We don’t always appreciate the sacrament of baptism as much as we can. It is a sacrament where heaven is opened up to us, where the Holy Spirit descends upon us, and where we hear God say, “You are my beloved child, with you I am well pleased.” How did we receive this great gift? Through God humbling himself and becoming one with those in need.

On Christmas Day, when God became man, he united himself to humanity and opened up the possibility for all of us to become like him. He is higher than us, but he comes low. He gives his “Yes” to humanity by becoming the Son of the virgin. He creates for us, a holy family within which we are invited to enter and be elevated toward the Father. In becoming Mary’s son, he in turn, elevates her. The woman becomes the Mother of God. How are we reborn into this new family?

After having created a holy family for us to enter, God sought out a people who were giving their “Yes” to him. He finds them on the shores of the Jordan. They were listening to John and expressing their “Yes” through receiving his baptism of repentance. They too were humbling themselves before God, accepting their lowliness and need for him. Here our Lord was being invited to enter, lowering himself again, not just to being united to the humanity of the blessed virgin Mary and to the holy family, but to sinful humanity. Jesus expresses his own “Yes” and enters the water with them. After he was baptized by John we hear the Gospel say, “He was praying.”

We don’t know what he was praying, but it seems that he prayed that this baptism of repentance would become a sacrament which forgave sin and brought new life, new relationship with God. From then on, baptism would be the womb of entrance into a new holy family, where each are children of the Father especially through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In response, the Father was well pleased. Jesus had looked compassionately on the contrite, joined his “Yes” to theirs, and prayed for them to enter into his own divine life When the Son united himself to Mary, she became the Mother of God. Now he had united himself to all who would come, making them children of the Father. And so it was, heaven was opened up, and the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.

God asks that you and I have this same compassion for others. Where people are giving their “Yes” to God, we must give our “Yes” with them. No matter how many mistakes a person has made, when they are sorry, we must enter their experience and try to help them. This is what God has done for us. This is what he expects us to do for others. As soon as we humble ourselves and prayerfully try, the Father immediately says to us, “You are my beloved children, with you I am well pleased.”

We thank God for giving us a sacrament which transforms who we are, and opens us up to life with the Father. Christ looked upon the sea of sinful humanity with compassion; joined his “Yes” to theirs, and transformed the baptism ritual into a womb of rebirth into a new family. Let us be thankful for the gift that has been given and prayerfully try to share this gift with others.

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