The Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 55:1-11      1 John 5:1-9      Mark 1:7-11

Baptism of JesusToday the liturgical season of Epiphany ends.  This liturgical season includes our celebrating of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.  That revelation of Jesus was made known to the Shepherds by the Angels at Bethlehem.  Then, on the feast of the Epiphany, Jesus was revealed to the Gentiles as God and King through the actions of the three Wise men, who journeyed to find him, guided by a star. During this particular time of the Liturgical year we are drawn to give special glory and praise to the one who has come as our Messiah.  We commemorate the first months of the life of Jesus and the events that the Holy Family had to endure.  All of these events are recounted in the Gospels.  And then we hear nothing of him until he is twelve years old.

When he is twelve years old his parents bring him up to Jerusalem where he gets lost!  After finding him in the temple teaching the people, his parents took him back to Nazareth and we hear nothing of him for the next eighteen years. What happened during those eighteen years?  What did the shepherds and wise men remember?  Did those who heard him in the temple remember him or wonder whatever became of him?  Simeon, Anna, Elizabeth, Zachariah and Joseph had died.  We might wonder at what led John the Baptist out into the desert or to the river Jordan or how aware was John of who Jesus really was. There was need for another Epiphany.  This time it would be revealed that Jesus would be a servant, a minister to God’s people, a Saviour.  To be a servant he needed to identify with these people, these human beings, with these sinners! And so, He went down into the muddy water of the river Jordan to be with us, to experience our world, to identify with our human nature.

Pope Saint John XXlll illustrated what identifying with people means when, on his first Christmas as Pope, he went to visit the Regina Coeli prison in Rome.  When the Pope saw the sad and broken prisoners before him, he felt a lump in his throat and was unable to deliver the speech that he had prepared.  Eventually he began to speak to them from the heart and said ‘Men, I have come here today to put my eyes into your eyes’. Years later, a prisoner described how he had been liberated that day because of the Pope’s visit and words.

At the Birth of Jesus in Bethlehem it was the angels who revealed Jesus to the Shepherds, it was the star that led the Wise men and through them Jesus was revealed as King.  John the Baptist pointed to Jesus as the one whom he foretold as Messiah.  But it was God the Father, Himself who revealed Jesus, the Beloved Son, to us at the moment of His Baptism.  This is truly the real Epiphany. As soon as Jesus is revealed as the ‘Beloved Son’ two of the disciples ask Him ‘where do you live?’  Jesus invites them to ‘come and see’.  It is an invitation to come and listen, to learn and be formed in the ways of the Lord.  Today is a sort of ‘Personal Epiphany’ for all of us.  We are invited to the same place as the two disciples, to see, hear, and come to know the Lord Jesus.  We pray that the Lord will reveal Himself to us in the intimacy of His presence in our lives.