Matt 3: 13-17
Jesus gets baptized today. In doing so, he foreshadows his crucifixion, going down into the water, dying for our sins. As we bring Christmas to a close today, the wood of the manger foreshadows the wood of the cross. 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, the perfect man. Everyone sees and everyone hears. His divinity is made manifest yet again. It appears, Matthew says, “like a dove,” and a voice: “This is my beloved Son; with whom I am well pleased.” 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 the Baptizer 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 after that desert time. He ponders and prays before taking action, a model for us all. After this, he begins his public life, of healing, teaching, that will lead him 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? 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, gazing up at the stars. If it expands your life and results in benefit for others. There is God’s pleasure in you, with whom he is well pleased. It is the fulfilling of “all righteousness.” 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: acting justly, loving tenderly, walking humbly with our God. For this we go forth to glorify God by our lives. Christ is born again in us. So if you have post-Christmas let-down, go make someone happy. An act of love. God’s love to someone else. Spread some light. Be light. A new epiphany, indeed. In you, in us. A new manifestation to the world in us. Indeed, in our deeds. It is the experience of Christ’s baptism, the Father’s pleasure, in us.