Monday, January 9. 2017

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

(Isaiah 42:1-4.6-7; Matthew 3:13-17)

In Martin Scorsese new film Silence Japanese Christians are pictured being crucified.  They willingly allow themselves to suffer and die in imitation of Christ.  They become the heroes of the story which features three European Jesuits who deny Christ in the face of suffering.  The meaning of the Lord’s baptism is precisely the same gaining of favor for his readiness to suffer.

Jesus tells John that he must submit to John’s baptism “to fulfill all righteousness.”  It would be a hollow expression if it did not mean making the ultimate sacrifice.  Jesus’ baptism should be taken as a prefiguring of his death on the cross and his resurrection.  Water, of course, has this dual quality of taking and giving life.  Because of his willingness to accept death for others, the Father says of him, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

The Christmas season ends today with Jesus’ baptism.  Its purpose has been to present Jesus as the savior of humanity.  He was worshipped first by the Jewish shepherds.  The Magi then came from a faraway place to recognize his majesty.  We too join this train of adoration.  Anticipating the narrative of his ministry, especially the fateful events of the Passover in Jerusalem, we raise a final tribute to him for coming.