Gospel For Today


Here’s a quick question…  why do we get baptized?  According to our Catholic faith, as taught in the Catechism, our baptism confers the forgiveness of sins (original sin, and actual sin).  It also causes us to be reborn in the Holy Spirit, united with Christ and His Church as children of God.
So here’s the follow up question prompted by today’s feast.  Why was Christ baptized?  Believing what we do about the effects of baptism, Jesus would not need the graces offered by God through the baptismal waters.  He was without sin; and he already was perfectly united with God as His only begotten Son.  So why was Jesus baptized?
In praying the Morning Office today, I found answers to that question in the intercessory prayers, which I would like to share with you this morning.
Christ, you made your light shine on us by revealing yourself; grant us the spirit of humble service to all people.

Christ’s baptism is a revelation, a manifestation of his divinity.  In today’s Gospel reading, John the Baptist said, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming.  I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”  Elsewhere John also said of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  Through his baptism, Jesus was revealing himself as the one of whom John spoke.  This manifestation is linked to the feast of Epiphany, which we celebrated last week, when Christ was manifested as king of all nations by the visitation of the magi from the east.

Christ, you humbled yourself and received baptism from your servant to show us the way of humility; grant us the spirit of humble service to our fellow man.

Christ was baptized for our benefit, not for his own.  It was an act of humility for him, just as his incarnation, being born of human flesh, was an act of humility.  Jesus allowing John to baptize him is similar to when Our Lord washed the feet of the Apostles at the Last Supper.  He is showing us that a true leader is one who serves other.  One cannot be holy without being humble.

Christ, through your baptism you cleansed us of every blemish and made us children of your Father; bestow your spirit of adoption on all who seek you.

Christ was already without sin.  Christ was already the begotten Son of the Father.  Through his baptism, he has made this sacrament the vehicle by which we become the Father’s adopted children and are cleansed from the dirt and grime of sin upon our souls, so that we may be more like him.

Christ, through baptism you have consecrated creation and opened the door of repentance to all who prepare for baptism; make us servants of your Gospel in the world.

In a manner of speaking, when John poured the waters of baptism upon the head of Jesus Christ, it was not Christ who was baptized by the water, but the other way around.  The waters of the world were baptized by Christ.  God blesses his creation and transforms it in to a vehicle of his grace and mercy.  Those of us who repent and come to the waters of baptism drink from the fountain of grace that erupts from Jesus Christ.

Christ, through your baptism you revealed to us the Holy Trinity when the Father called you his beloved Son and the Holy Spirit came down upon you; renew the spirit of adoption among the royal priesthood of the baptized.

Again, Christ’s baptism is a manifestation; not only of Jesus’s divinity, but of the Blessed Trinity itself.  In this scene in the gospel today we have all three actors, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit on the stage.  The Trinity was not a concept known to the Jesus; it is a facet of God’s inner life that is revealed to us only through Jesus Christ.  At his baptism, we receive a glimpse of the Holy Trinity, an intimate look at God never before revealed to us.

And so let us celebrate this last feast of the Christmas season, this feast wherein all the waters of the world are made holy, the doors of forgiveness thrown open to all who repent, and God the Trinity is made manifest to us.
Almighty, eternal God, when the Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan, you revealed him as your own beloved Son.  Keep us, your children born of water and the Spirit, faithful to our calling.
We ask this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

For more information on the Baptism of the Lord, click the link below: