Dear St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart Parish Family,
Last Sunday we celebrated the Epiphany. It is easy to associate the meaning of Epiphany as the wise men visiting the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Epiphany actually means revelation, so when we celebrate the Epiphany of Jesus we celebrate Jesus being revealed to the world. On Epiphany Sunday, we especially remember Jesus being revealed as the light to the nations. The wise men were considered Gentiles, and not Jews, so they would have come from a distance.
Today, The Baptism of the Lord, we celebrate another epiphany of Jesus. Jesus’ Father spoke and said, “You are my Beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:7-11). Our Gospel account of Jesus’ baptism reminds us of our own baptism. Why did Jesus ask John for baptism? Baptism is for the forgiveness of sin and Jesus did not need forgiveness. This is why John objects to giving Jesus baptism, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me (Mt 3:14)? To show humility, Jesus insisted. All of His followers would be baptized, and to show unity, Jesus wanted to also be baptized. Jewish children were not baptized, Jewish boys were circumcised 8 days after birth and girls had a naming ceremony. The followers of Jesus, however, would be distinguished by baptism.
Does baptism make a difference? Just as Jesus was baptized the Father spoke, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased,” so to when we are baptized the Father says over each of us, “You are my beloved son, you are my beloved daughter; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit when he was baptized in the Jordan. We too are anointed with the oil of chrism during our baptism, and like Jesus we receive the Holy Spirit.
What a gift! Yes, but to whom much has been given, much will be expected. What is our vocation since baptism? Our vocation as baptized Christians in this world is to witness Jesus as the King of the New and Everlasting Kingdom. When we fail, we ask for pardon and mercy. We get up and continue giving witness. This is a great responsibility, so help us God!
In Christ’s love,