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The Mystery of Baptism
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, come to my soul and teach me to do your holy will.
- It is Right and Just: We hear these words in the Holy Mass: “It is right and just, always and everywhere to give you thanks for your great glory…” Praise to God is the proper and just response to so great a God. Yet, in this passage Jesus is not inciting people to praise him. He approaches John to be baptized. He puts himself in the place of the unrighteous who need repentance. Jesus’s response to John reveals what it truly means to be righteous: “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Jesus takes the place of sinners to fulfill God’s saving plan. That is the meaning of righteousness–obedience to the Father’s will.
- Revelation and Reward: The Father proclaims his joy at the obedience of his Son. Suddenly a voice is heard: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus did not even hold onto his own “reputation” as the righteous one. He accepted the role of repentant sinner by asking to be baptized. His obedience is rewarded by the appearance of the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, and the affirmation of his Father. A Trinitarian revelation takes place. We get a glimpse into the dialogue of love that takes place in the communion of persons in the Trinity.
- Trinitarian Epiphany: The Dynamic of Self-Gift: Jesus’s abasement for the sake of his Father’s plan of salvation reflects his eternal gift of self to the Father. The revelation of the Father’s audible affirmation of his Son reflects the eternal love for his Son. And the Son receives that affirmation with joy and continual surrender to the Father’s desire. The Holy Spirit’s presence reflects the eternal love that exists in the dialogue of self-gift between the Father and the Son. We are invited to enter into this dynamic of self-gift. It began in our baptism. Our everyday response to be obedient to the Father creates, in a mystical sense, this Epiphany of the Trinity in our soul. Far from an abstraction and mere idea, it is a profound yet unseen reality taking place within.
Conversing with Christ: Holy Trinity dwelling in me, grant me the grace to respond with the same righteousness as Jesus. Help me to hear and be obedient to your will throughout my day and respond with an intentional and loving self-gift.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace, I will be attentive to the ways I may be living a false sense of righteousness in my judgments towards others, and the ways I can live a true righteousness in my efforts to be obedient to the Father, with charity in thought, word, and deed as the touchstone of my self-giving.
For Further Reflection: Song: “Something in the Water” by Carrie Underwood.
Jennifer Ristine is a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi who is dedicated to spiritual and faith formation through teaching, conferences, writing, and spiritual direction. While serving in Ancient Magdala she wrote Mary Magdalene: Insights from Ancient Magdala, https://rcspirituality.org/book/mary-magdalene-insights-from-ancient-magdala/.