Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Today is the feast of the Lord’s Baptism
George Caird in his Pelican commentary on the Gospel of Luke asked this question, “Why was Jesus baptized?” You who are attending this Mass, can you answer this question? What’s the reason why Jesus was baptized? After all, the New Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The fruit of baptism or baptismal grace is a rich reality that includes the forgiveness of original sin and personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ’s Body and a temple of the Holy Spirit,” (CCC no. 1279). The New Testament of the Bible is very consistent also that Jesus has no sins of his own to confess.
Caird writes: “Jesus went to be baptized then, not for private reasons, but as a man with a public calling. John the Baptist had summoned all Israel to repentance and with Israel, Jesus too, must go. Jesus dwelt in the midst of a sinful people and could not separate himself from them. Rather, he must be fully identified with them in their movement towards God.”
In other words, baptism is not necessary for Jesus Christ. He was always God’s beloved Son on whom His favor rests. And yet He chose to be baptized to identify Himself with our need for forgiveness and with our longing for redemption. To lead us into the kingdom, He himself would enter by the same and only door open to us, the door of baptism and which also the door to other sacraments. That we are not yet baptized we could receive the other sacrament. So to speak, He was baptized to be in solidarity with us.
How can we, as baptized Christians live our baptismal promises? It is in baptism that we received the Holy Spirit. The year 1998 was declared by Pope John Paul II in Tertio Millenio Adveniente as the Year of the Holy Spirit. It happened also that the year 1998, we experienced the beginning of different crises and problems. It was reported that that there are some companies and factories would close because of this Asian currency crisis. There were mass lay-offs of workers. Many have had no job anymore. There were OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) went home because of this crisis again. So what jobs could we offer to them? Election time has come. As expected, there were election frauds. At this occasion, we need the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit especially in making decisions and choices. Let us reflect more before we decide for anything.
It is said that a diamond is a hard transparent and brilliant mineral, a crystalline carbon and is used as a gem by which everybody are tirelessly looking for. But this raw mineral attains its precious value if it is polished and appraised according to the four C: Cut, Color, Clarity and Cost.
According to a certain priest that we are like a diamond, we are nothing but a black carbon buried in death and sin. But Christ came to purify us with his sacrifice and death on the cross. As St. Paul says, “we were buried, therefore, with him through baptism into his death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the father, we too might walk in the newness of life,” (Rom 6:4).
So as baptized Christians, we have to be constantly formed to perfection that He may actualize his priceless value. In this endeavor, like the raw diamond that needs the four Cs in order to attain its precious value, we too, need these four Cs according to this priest: Christ, Church, Conversion and Charity.
CHRIST. Christ is the Son of the Father and through the power of the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary. Jesus is the one who, “will save His people from their sins,” (Matt 1:21). “There is no other name under heaven giving among men by which we must be saved,” (Acts 4:12). He is the Messiah and mediator between God and man. He is the foundation, the beginning and the end of our Christian life. He leads us to the Father and has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we may become sharers of His resurrection. Yes, He has given His Blessed Mother to be our mother too. We couldn’t ask for more except to realize that without Him, we can do nothing.
CHURCH. By baptism, we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, the People of God and we are made sharers of the priesthood of Christ, in His royal and prophetic mission. We are nourished by our holy mother, the Church through the Eucharist and other sacraments, through the word of God and the guidance of the successors of the apostles and the communion of the faithful.
CONVERSION. The new life of baptism can be weakened and even mud by sin. There is call for constant metanoia (or change of heart), as Christ invites us to conversion and reconciliation: “repent and believe in the gospel,” (Mk 1:15). The diamond in us may be covered with the black mud and of sin, but our movement of return to God allows us to brightly glow again through his rich mercy. Confession is an invaluable ingredient to this process.
CHARITY. The New Catechism of the Catholic Church defines this as: “The theological virtue by which we love God above all things for His own sake and our neighbors for the love of God,” (CCC no. 1822). Charity is the greatest of all virtues for which it, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things,” (1Cor 13:7). Without charity, we gain nothing; with it, we can embrace everything including the cross.
To end this sharing with you, I have theses question thrown to you: Do you know when and where you were baptized? If not, why not find out and celebrate it as your birth date in faith? You might attend Mass that day, say a rosary, make a holy hour in the adoration chapel and other places or reread the baptismal promises and meditate on their meaning.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C