Baptism of the Lord 2010

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.  Strictly speaking, the Lord did not need to be baptized, of course.  Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.  He was perfectly without sin and therefore had no need to be baptized.  In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear that Saint John the Baptist protests when the Lord comes to Him to be baptized.  The Lord says that it is fitting for Him to fulfill all righteousness.  In other words, even though He is without sin, He allows Himself to be baptized as an example for us.  The Christian rite of Baptism has a beautiful prayer which says that the waters of Baptism were sanctified by Christ when He was baptized.

We also know that Saint John’s baptism differed from Christian Baptism.  Saint John the Baptist himself says that he only baptizes with water, but One is coming Who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.  The baptism that Saint John was administering was only a sign of repentance.  The Baptism that we receive into Christ is not a mere sign of repentance; it really takes our sin away.

After Christ is baptized, the heavens open and the Holy Spirit descends upon Him and the voice of the Father is heard saying that He is well pleased with His Son.  Through our Baptism, we become sons and daughters of God.  When someone is baptized, the Holy Spirit descends to dwell within his or her soul; the newly baptized person becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit.

Another thing that happened at our Baptism is that we all became members of the mystical body of Christ.  In Baptism, we die and rise with Christ.  In Baptism, we receive a mark on our souls that cannot be removed and that mark is a sign that we belong to Jesus Christ.  When we are baptized, we are baptized into the death and Resurrection of Christ, and as a result we share in His threefold office of Priest, Prophet and King.  As we are united and conformed to Christ in our Baptism, we are given a share in these three offices.

A priest is someone who is set apart to serve God.  The way that a priest serves God is by offering sacrifice.  The sacrifice that Jesus made to God was the sacrifice of Himself upon the Cross.  By virtue of our Baptism, we are all a priestly people; we are all set apart to serve the Lord and to offer sacrifice to God.  Each and every one of us is called to imitate Jesus and offer the gift of ourselves to God.  Just as He offered Himself upon the Cross, so too we are to offer ourselves up to God.  Jesus said that if we would be His disciples, we have to take up our cross and follow Him.  We can all offer to God our daily work, our sufferings, our private prayers, our thoughts, our joys, our anxieties.  We are all called to imitate Jesus Christ and offer everything we have and all that we are back to God.  That is what it means to love God with all our minds, all our hearts, and all our strength.

A prophet is one who announces God’s message to others.  Jesus fully reveals God to us: He reveals God by His words, by His actions, ultimately by His death.  By dying on the Cross, He shows us the depth of God’s love for us.  We too are called to share in the prophetic mission of Christ.  We are called to share the Good News that God has sent us a Savior.  That does not mean that we need to preach to everyone that we meet; but Scripture does say that we are always to be ready to give reasons for the hope that is within us.  (1 Peter 3:15)  We preach loudest by our actions.

Finally, we know that Jesus Christ is the King of kings and Lord of lords.  He reigns in Heaven at the right hand of the Father.  While on earth, however, He said that He did not come to be served, but to serve.  We are destined to reign forever with Christ in Heaven.  Yet while we are on this earth, we must follow the example that He gave to us.  Through Baptism, we have become a royal priestly people; but that does not mean that we are to think ourselves better than others.  Christ is Our King and yet He washed the feet of His disciples.  If we wish to reign with Him in Heaven, we have to follow the example that He set for us while on earth.  We have to love one another as He has loved us.

Let us ask Our Lord to give us the grace that we need to live out these three offices ever more faithfully: Lord Jesus, we thank you for the gift of our Faith; we ask you to help us to conform our hearts ever more completely to Yours.  Help us, Lord, to live out faithfully the mission that we have received at our Baptism.  May we live out the offices that we have received in a way that is most pleasing to You.  Amen.