It is fitting that we celebrate today the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord soon after His Birthday, even though many years intervened between the two. Our focus changes from the Christmas child Jesus to the adult Jesus, and a new beginning. Up to now few people knew who he was. At His baptism, many people came to know His identity.
Jesus is God’s gift to us. He didn’t come, as some think, to stay the anger of a vengeful God; he came because God loves us. God was with Him, as the voice from heaven at His baptism said. He brought it about that God is also with us. Through our Baptism we receive the spirit of adoption which makes us children of God, a second birth that’s an ongoing transformation of our first. Our baptism incorporated us, in a special way, into Jesus.
Is our baptism real to us, alive and dynamic – or is it something we take for granted?
St Louis IX King of France from 1226 to 1270, on several occasions spoke of the importance of the anniversary of his baptism rather than of his birth or coronation as king. Baptism, he said, was the beginning of a life that would continue in everlasting glory.
Has our baptism brought a realisation that we have the potential for transformation? Such a transformation means conversion. And conversion means a new vision. And a new vision of what is possible in Jesus begets mission.
And mission means a search for Jesus’ values, a perhaps painful awareness of the gap between our proclaimed values and our lived values.
The waters of baptism don’t save automatically. At our baptism we are given the grace to respond to Jesus’ invitation to follow him throughout our lives.