By Fr. DJ Garcia, CJM
Baptism’s link to the forgiveness of sins and conversion may puzzle us to the necessity of Jesus to be baptized, for surely Jesus does not need forgiveness for he was sinless nor does he need conversion for he was always in communion with his Father. Yet, Jesus needed to be baptized by John as this was part of God’s plan. Jesus’ baptism is a proclamation of his identity and mission. It inaugurates his public ministry of proclaiming God’s kingdom and God’s love for all. Furthermore, his baptism is an act of solidarity with sinful humanity to which he came for to redeem. Jesus is God’s beloved son in whom he is well pleased and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ baptism attests to Jesus’ being animated by the Spirit which empowers him to fulfill his mission.
The feast of the Lord’s baptism is a call for us to look at our own baptism and its corresponding responsibilities as baptized Christians. Baptism has given us an indelible mark--- that we are God’s beloved children--- and thus, Jesus is our brother and that we are all brothers and sisters. In baptism we have received our mission to share in Jesus’ threefold office of priest, prophet and king. As priests, we pray and offer sacrifices for one another. As prophets, we preach and witness to Christ and his gospel. And as kings, we serve one another.
St. John Eudes presents Baptism as “Man’s Contract with God” wherein God commits himself out of love for us, loving us as His children, making us co-heirs with Jesus, and giving us the Holy Spirit. On the other end, man’s part involves a commitment in response to that love: to renounce all that is not Christ and all that stands in the way of his life in us, in order to adhere to Jesus who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life.” For St. John Eudes, to be a Christian is to profess Christ. In baptism, we have died and raised up in Christ, and have become “a new creation.” Can we say like St. Paul “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”? (Gal 2:20)
Today’s feast is an invitation for us to thank God for the gift of our Baptism but more importantly to re-evaluate our life vis-à-vis the mission we received. To be a Christian is both a gift and a responsibility.