Today marks the end of the Christmas Season, the season of intense reflection on the God-man’s revelation to humanity. Thus, with the Baptism of the Lord, we must ask ourselves this question: what does Jesus want to reveal to us today with his baptism?
On the one hand, Jesus wants to reveal that he comes to “fulfill all righteousness.” According to Deuteronomy 6:25, righteousness means fearing God, loving and obeying him, always. Jesus’ baptism fulfills the Old Covenant’s idea of righteousness. Though sinless, Jesus enters into solidarity with sinners by receiving the baptism of John – a baptism with water of repentance (Matthew 3:11). He embraces the fate of sinful humanity for us on the cross in order to make us righteous. St Paul writes in Romans 5:18, “Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.”
Indeed, the descent of the Spirit and the Father’s voice saying “this is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” fulfill Isaiah 42:1, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon him I have put my spirit.” But there is more. Jesus also wants to reveal who he is. Jesus is the fullness and perfection of revelation (Dei Verbum, no. 4). Everything that was spoken of in the Old Covenant finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ, and everything that the Father wishes to speak to us today comes through Jesus. Hebrews 1:1 says, “Long ago God spoke to our ancestors in many and various ways by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son.” Whatever we want to know about God can be found in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As Jesus himself says later in Matthew 11:27, “no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
In fact, the Triune God reveals himself today: the Son rises from the water, the Spirit descends on the Son, and the Father declares his delight in the Son. But the Triune God calls us, through the person of Jesus Christ, to share in the divine life. This is the whole aim of the Christian life revealed at the baptism of the Lord. Just as Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father, so, too, are we called to be beloved sons of the Father, adopted through the only-begotten Son. This always begins by allowing God to love us in Jesus Christ – to love us through and in the Son. Hence, our life should aim to say Yes to divine love so that, when we stand before the throne of God, he may say to us: “you are my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased.”
Joseph Yuson – St. Joseph Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta
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