January 6

Mark 1:7-11

The Baptism of Jesus

I am sure that you are familiar with this expression: ‘You cannot please everybody.’

Today’s gospel account according to St. Mark talks about the Baptism of Jesus and we can find three important images. The first is Jesus standing in the water. The second is the dove hovering over Jesus. And the third is the voice speaking about Jesus.

These three images point out to the Three Persons of the Blessed Trinity, that is, the Son standing in the water; the Holy Spirit symbolized by the dove; and the Father, symbolized by the voice.

This Trinitarian theme of the Baptism of Jesus is present at every baptism a priest administered to an infant or an adult. At the baptism, water is poured out on the unbaptized person for three times, saying: “N._____, I Baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

But the Baptism of Jesus poses a problem to John’s Baptism. It is because the baptism of St. John is a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. He preaches about this kind of baptism (Luke 3:3). This means that those who were sorry for their sins and who wish to express their determination to have done with them. But why does Jesus, the Sinless One, submit himself to John’s baptism? This Baptism is quite irrelevant as far as He is concerned. For St. Mark, Jesus’ Baptism marks the beginning of His three-year public ministry. According to an SVD seminarian that Jesus takes upon the role of the Prophet who proclaims and gives witness to the truth; the role of the Priest who sanctifies and intercedes to the Father for us; and the role of the King who introduces a new and nobler role of a king, that is, to be a Servant-Leader to all. When we were baptized we did not only become heirs and members of God’s family, but also sharers in the threefold functions of Christ. We too are called to become prophets, priests and servant-leaders of our present time.

After Jesus was baptized by St. John, God the Father, symbolizes by a voice came from the heavens, says: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

While reflecting upon these words of God the Father to His Son, Jesus, I remember the story told by Fr. Flor Lagura, SVD (Bible Diary 2012 – January 6, 2012) in his homily that there was a priest, when he was still a young boy, would ask his mother what he would be. This young boy grandly thought of being a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher and a counsellor, all at the same time.

Surprised, his mother would ask him: “How can that be possible?” and the young boy would reply: “By being a priest! As a priest I can heal souls together with their bodies. As a priest I can stand for and defend the rights especially of the poor. As a priest I can teach about God and the truths of the gospel and the Catholic faith. Finally, as a priest I can advise and console people in distress.”

Do you know what happened to this young boy? He became a priest and later became Jaime Cardinal Sin, the great leader of the Church in the Philippines as well as an unrelenting but respected critic of the unlamented Martial Law years.

Fr. Lagura continued that when the Lord finally called the much loved Archbishop of Manila to the heavenly home, his loving mother surely met him at the gates and presented him to the Father, saying: “Lord, this is my beloved son in whom I am very well pleased.”

See Today’s Readings:  Year I,   Year II

See Other Homily Sources,

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