The prophetic words of John heightened the sense of expectancy in the crowd gathered at the Jordan. But they ring, too, down the centuries and into our own ears. They should have the same effect upon us.
We are the bells that will continue ringing John’s message of Christ. That is, if we are willing to ring with the promise of Christ.
In order to do so, we may look at the accounts of John baptising Christ. It is a story of newness, of dedication. But, just like with the lowly crib and the terrible Cross which mark the beginning and ends of Christ’s earthly ministry, it also contains messages of humility and unexpectedness. John said of Jesus: “I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals…” and he would have been amazed that Christ asked him to baptise him. Our own baptismal journey contains similarly surprising requests from Jesus, similar moments in which we are challenged to accept both humility and honour beyond what we think is right.
The voice from heaven said: “You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.” Jesus is our way to the Father, and in that Gospel moment we witness an amazing vista: the voice of God the Father, the Spirit represented by a Dove, and Jesus at his baptism. We, too, are there in that same picture, amidst the Holy Trinity, One God. We are there through the Gospel accounts and our desire to emulate Jesus. We are there through God’s gift of faith. So, this is our first amazing event, our first great surprise to accept and act upon: that we are chosen.
Our baptism continually renews us in our efforts to seek God. We are indelibly sealed with the sonship and daughtership of God. So, let us pray this day and going forward that we may live better aligned to our baptismal promises and strive ever more to accept the love that God freely gives. Amen.
The Lord be with you.
And with your spirit
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke 3: 15-16, 21-22
Glory to you, O Lord.
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all,
‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven,
‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you’.
The Gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.