Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. In a moment that John could never have expected, Jesus approaches him and asks to be baptised. John remonstrates and says that it is Jesus that should be baptising him. But Jesus persists, ever surprising his followers by what he asks, and requests St John to baptise him.
We too, may be surprised by the demands of Jesus. Like John, we can feel useless before his strength, and yet Jesus asks us to do what we think he should do. In John’s case it was to baptise. But in our case, we are asked to be the helpers, the protectors, the advocates of those who need Jesus’s strength. We are asked to live as ambassadors of Jesus. This is sometimes painfully difficult. It feels like we do not have the ability.
And indeed, we do not. Not ourselves, anyway. What gives us the strength to carry out God’s will is God. At our own baptism we were sealed with the indelible seal of the Spirit. The same spirit who appeared to Jesus as a dove at his own baptism, who drove him into the wildeness, and who appeared to the disciples in the upper room. It is through him that we gain the grace to live as Jesus lived, and to live as his ambassadors.
A reading from the Gospel according to Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him: ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the moment; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands’. At this, John gave in to him.
As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven,
‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests upon him’.
The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.