Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22
gets baptized. He foreshadows
his crucifixion, dying for our sins. As we bring Christmas to a close
today, the wood of
the manger foreshadows the wood
of the cross. In getting baptized, the one without sin makes the waters holy. The
God who hovered over the waters at creation and who will calm the seas later, makes
the first ‘holy water.’ Another epiphany! Another revelation. Last week, an
infant is manifested to the nations. This week, an adult. Everyone sees and
everyone hears. His divinity is made manifest yet again. It appears, Luke says,
“in bodily form like a dove,” and a voice: “You are my beloved Son; with you I
am well pleased.” This is the experience of Spirit and fire of which John the Baptizer has
spoken to the people. Jesus
feels it – as if on fire – the overwhelming love of his Father. It is
this experience that Christ will send to us at Pentecost. John points to this when
he says: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Have you ever
felt the warmth of Christ’s love for you?
This experience of being loved by His Father will
propel him into the desert to ponder what the Father expects him to do and after
that desert time, to begin his public life, of healing, teaching, that will
lead to the cross. Christmas
leads to Good Friday and Easter.
We receive the Holy Spirit in baptism. It is
this we celebrate today, Jesus’ baptism and our own. Can you remember a time
when you felt God’s
pleasure? Remember Olympic
runner in the film Chariots of Fire
who said: “I feel God’s pleasure when I run.” Hopefully you feel it when
you do an activity that is life expanding and fulfilling for you. It could be
your family, profession, your hobby, your volunteer work. Dcn. Brian spoke of
an experience such as this last week, star gazing up in the trees. If it expands your life and
results in benefit for others. There is
God’s pleasure in you, with whom he is well pleased. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton speaks
of it as the inner life of God continuing in us. It is the fruit of baptism. It
is the stuff of sanctity.
We are all loved, just like Jesus in today’s
gospel. As we bring Christmas to its close with this liturgy, we, like Jesus,
go forward in our public lives, knowing we are loved. For this we go forth to glorify God by our lives.
Christ is born again in us. A new epiphany, indeed. A new manifestation to the
world. Indeed, in our deeds.