Illustration by Phil Younk
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Based on the Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17
Fast forward in time! We go from the Gospels of the past few weeks about the Infant Jesus to this Sunday’s Gospel and the baptism of the Adult Jesus. Other than the finding of young Jesus in the temple (Lk 2:41-52), Scripture doesn’t tell us very much about the years between Jesus as a toddler and the beginning of his teaching ministry or “public” life at age 30.
Preparing for the coming of the Messiah, John the Baptist boldly called people to repentance, to confess their sins and to be submerged in the Jordan River for the forgiveness of their sins and a change of heart.
Jesus, who doesn’t need to repent for anything or be forgiven for anything, approaches John to be baptized. John says, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus replies, “We will do things this way for it is right to follow my Father’s plan.”
Right there Jesus took upon himself the guilt for all our sins. Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River was the first step in Jesus’ acceptance of his Father’s will and the way of the cross leading to his death and Resurrection to bring about complete redemption from sin and suffering and gain everlasting life for us in heaven – all because of God’s love for us.
As Jesus came up from the water, the sky opened and the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove and hovered over him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus would now begin the work his Father had sent him to do – proclaiming the Kingdom of God by teaching about God’s love, healing the sick and disabled, and forgiving people their sins. Jesus began his mission with power and miracles. He taught his apostles to carry on his work. That work continues today through his church.
Our baptism was also a beginning. Baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, each of us became God’s beloved child in whom he is well pleased. We were welcomed into the family of God, his church, and began our lives of faith. We received a new life of grace through water and the Holy Spirit to begin our Christian mission, which is the same as Jesus’ mission – to proclaim God’s kingdom of love for all people by our words and actions.
The baptism of Jesus is the first of the five luminous mysteries of the rosary – the mysteries of light which highlight events in Jesus’ public life. Pray the rosary devoutly while thinking about these mysteries of Jesus’ mission of love. Absolutely everything Jesus did was for love of us.