Today’s Feast brings us to the conclusion of the Christmas cycle. We move from the crib in Bethlehem to the beginning of Jesus Public Ministry.

Jesus was walking along the shores of the Jordan River. He was looking for His cousin John the Baptizer. John was the one crying out in the wilderness “Prepare the way of the Lord; make a straight path for Him.” John was considered to be a prophet – he was baptizing in the Jordan River.

John dressed in rags and skins, fasted, and attracted a number of disciples who followed his lifestyle. He rejected city life and lived in the desert and ate wild berries and honey. His message was simple: the Messiah is coming and prepare for Him by repentance of sins, renunciation of wickedness and oppression of the poor, and be Baptized in water as a sign of cleansing. This was only the first step, John would say because when the Messiah came, He would Baptize in water, fire, and in the Holy Spirit.

On the day of Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River, people had come out from all of the villages and towns in the district to watch John and hear him preach. Jesus had not yet begun His public ministry, so He was just another face in the crowd. As Jesus approached, John immediately recognized Him as the Messiah – the Son of God. John’s face and speech gave a hint that something very special was happening – that someone very special was approaching.

John hesitated at the Baptism – John wanted to be baptized by Jesus! But Jesus said in effect: “ALLOW IT NOW! GIVE IN NOW. WE MUST DO THIS IF WE WOULD FULFILL ALL OF GOD’S DEMANDS.”

Jesus sought Baptism in the Jordan to provide an opportunity for the beginning of His public ministry and to let the crowds hear the revelation from His Father in Heaven as to who He was, and what he was about. Certainly, the sinless Son of God did not need to be baptized by John or anybody else. His Baptism was quite different from ours. He needed no Cleansing from sin, no change of heart, no reformation of life which was the purpose of John’s Baptism.

At the Epiphany, Jesus was acknowledged by all the nations; now, at His Baptism, He was calling all the nations to follow Him.

As Jesus descended into the water, the Spirit appeared in the form of a dove, and the voice of the Father was heard: “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED; LISTEN TO HIM.” The crowds were filled with wonder at what they had seen and heard. The Old Testament Covenant was passing away. John the Baptist (the last of the Old Testament prophets) would be arrested, imprisoned, and executed.

Jesus’ descent into the water of the Jordan River was like His descent from the right hand of the father to the stable of Bethlehem – it was an act of humility – an act of love. His descent into the water was a kind of death; for when He emerged from the water, he began His Public Ministry. He assumed the role of the “Suffering Servant” whom Isaiah the Prophet had spoken of 500 years before – the Servant who would be rejected and killed for the sake of the people.

When He emerged from the water, he had taken upon Himself the sins and the sufferings of all humanity. He identified Himself with us, and He began His solemn journey to Jerusalem where He would suffer and die on the Cross. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit as a sign to all of us that we too – by reason of our Baptism – are called to the saving mission of Jesus Christ.


Jesus says the same words to each of us. Baptism is the first step in GIVING IN TO GOD’S DEMANDS.

Baptism is our recognition and acceptance of the fact that all we have – life, light, love – are the gifts of God. To give in to God at Baptism, and day by day means that we stand ready to “GIVE IN TO GOD’S DEMANDS.”

On the day of our own baptism, each of us was called to a special relationship with God our Father. We are the beloved sons and daughters of the Father. The same Holy Spirit who appeared at the Baptism of Jesus has come to us to fill us with life and holiness. We did nothing to deserve it, but we are members of the very household of God our Father.

On the day of our Baptism, there were parties, gifts, laughter, and relatives. Think today of the Baptism of Jesus today. Think of Jesus slowly descending into the water to take on His role as Savior and lover of mankind. Listen again as the voice of the Father thunders: “THIS IS MY BELOVED SON, WITH WHOM I AM WELL PLEASED!”

I wonder what raced through His mind. Did he weep as He thought of the rejection of His message, the sin-fullness of humanity, the ingratitude of His people to His Passion, Death, and resurrection? I wonder if you and I passed through His mind?

Today, we need to ask ourselves if we are responding to the graces of our Baptism – the call to be beloved sons and daughters of our Father. Where are we on our “Journey of faith to the house of our Father?”