Lk 3:21 “When all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape like a dove.”
Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus and God’s revelation of him as the “beloved Son”. We also remember our own baptism when we became God’s beloved children.
The people in Jesus’ time expected a Messiah. They had their ideas of who this Messiah should be and what He should do. We also have expectations as Christians. Your expectation should be in line with who you are and who God is enabling you to become. Your expectations should be consistent with what God wants for you. As His children, we should strive to be what God wants us be; to give up what does not lead to God, and all inordinate worldly ambition. Live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age (cf. Titus 2:12; Micah 6:8). Our lives should bring others closer to God.
Who is the long-expected Messiah? It is Jesus, the beloved Son of God. What does He do? Baptise us with the Holy Spirit and Fire. Who are we? The beloved of God, His adopted children and heirs of His kingdom. The Greek word translated “adoption” is huiothesia, and it occurs only five times in the New Testament, all in the letters of St Paul (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5). It means “to formally and legally declare that someone who is not one’s own child is henceforth to be treated and cared for as one’s own child, including complete rights of inheritance.” In the Roman culture, the adopted son or daughter had four major changes: a change of family, a change of name, a change of home, and a change of responsibilities. “Adoption” clearly indicates that a Christian is a member of God’s family.
What are we to do? Embrace a journey of discovery about Jesus and ourselves that sets us on fire for God. All our expectations should be directed toward faithful baptismal living.
The baptismal rite put into focus the primary gift of baptism – a share in divine life which is for us a new identity:
Water – plunged into the baptismal waters, we are plunged into Christ’s death; rising we share in divine life. Water brings both death (to our old selves) and a rebirth of life (new Life in God).
Chrism: anointed with chrism, we share in the threefold office of Christ- priest, prophet and ruler. Our anointing with chrism is a consecration of ourselves to conform our life to Christ’s.
White garment: clothed in a white garment, we are reminded of our new, holy, risen Life in Christ. We are to live unstained until we enjoy eternal Life with God.
Lighted candle: enlightened by Christ, we are also to be Light of Christ dispelling sin and darkness in the world. We ourselves are manifestations that in Christ the light of salvation has come into the world (cf. Jn 1:9; 8:12).
These Symbols also imply the demands of discipleship:
- Water: dying to self;
- Chrism: conforming ourselves to Christ;
- White garment: living lives worthy of who we are;
- Lighted candle: overcoming the darkness of sin.
Primarily these symbols help us understand who we become in baptism – members of the Body of Christ sharing in divine identity.
Greater awareness and appreciation of our identity enables us to be more faithful in our discipleship.
Faithful baptismal living both fulfils expectations and generates new ones. This is why baptismal living is a journey of discovery. Baptism opens us to a Presence that continually transforms who we are and what we can do for others. Baptism offers us new Life in the Holy Spirit, one that is steadfast yet unpredictable, familiar yet surprising, restful yet energizing. Baptismal living calls us not simply to run away from sin but to realise that everything we do can be done to the glory of God (cf. 1Cor 10:31; Col 3:17). Our every action can become an act of worship. Baptism sets no on fire with love for God.
Baptism and Prayer
If baptism is the flame, prayer is the wax that keeps it burning. Jesus’ first action after His baptism was to pray to the Father. Luke mentions ten different occasions when Jesus sought the solitude of prayer (Lk 3:21-23; 4:1-2; 4:14; 5:15-17; 6:12-13; 9:18-20; 9:28-29; 11:1-4,9; 22:39-46). He did this to give us an example of how God’s children should long to communicate with their heavenly Father. He also did it because, God’s will is revealed when we spend time with Him. We grow to love, trust and live for Him.
Prayer: Thank You Lord for making me your child through the waters of Baptism. Give me strength to love you and seek a deeper and more loving relationship with You.