Sunday, January 11, 2009

I suppose I should not let this Sunday go without a comment on the Feast. A lady asked me after Mass why Jesus needed to be baptised. A warning to preachers (!) just because one makes sense to oneself does not mean one makes sense to others. I thought I had dealt with that in my sermon. Jesus accepted John's baptism as the next step in His mission to reveal the Father's love and mercy (to reveal the Father!) and to save us for eternal life. By being immersed (exactly what the word means) in the waters of Jordan He made sacred all the waters of the world just as the Church sings. He also establishes the Sacrament of Baptism which He will commission His disciples to offer to the world for its salvation.
In the icon above, from Holy Trinity Church, Ohio, Christ stands in the midst of the waters of Jordan with John on the left and three angels, shocked at his humility, ready to minister to Him on the right. Above Him the Holy Spirit descends from the Father. This day is a Trinitarian feast, a celebration of the action of all three Divine Persons in our salvation and sanctification. For Him this is not a baptism of personal repentance but a prophetic act. He repents on our behalf, the sinless for the sinful, the pure for the impure, the perfect for the imperfect, God for man. He is both the axe laid to the root (Mt 3:10; Lk 3:9)and the axeman who wields the axe.
Scholars have suggested that the differences in the synoptic accounts of the Baptism are due the early Church coming to terms with who Jesus was and who John was. But what if the differences are due to different experiences? What if different people saw different things and the Gospels record them because these individuals were at different spiritual levels? Some had the eyes to see and ears to hear what the Lord was doing while others had not. Some could hear the voice of the Father, some that of an angel, some thunder. On this feast of the Baptism of the Lord perhaps we should pray for the spiritual eyes and ears we need to see what the Lord is doing now so that we can immerse ourselves in it with Him.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Thanks for your helpful explanation of this feast.


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