Sunday is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This pivotal event in the life of Christ marks the beginning of his ministry. In this moment, Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit in the river Jordan, by the hand of John the Baptist.
Firstly, contained in this action is a twofold observation about our own ministry on earth. Both are essentially the message of humility. The first comes from John the Baptist, who gently remonstrated against being the one to anoint Jesus. He felt unworthy. Yet, he did what Jesus said, and on some level it must have felt like a bizarre role reversal. The second observation is about Jesus himself. The son of God chooses John the Baptist as his vehicle into the power of the Spirit. John was a contentious figure, who by this point had already been identified by the religious leaders of the day as a possible troublemaker. And he was in many respects our first monk, making his whole life one of preparation for the coming of Christ, living in the desert apart from other people, and entering into serious asceticism, all of which is the foundation of the life that we live. Notice that John has seen-in a King, not by dressing like one or feasting or seeking power, but by entering into true and dedicated humility. That is, littleness.
Fast-forward two thousand years and, through our own baptism, we too have been ordered to the life of Christ – Priest, Prophet, King. How do we enter into this life? Do we take on this mantle of the Holy Spirit buy lording it above others, by exercising the power of the world, by making ourselves more important than others? No. None of this will do. Look at what Jesus did. Yes, his baptism was a trailblazing affair, but it had humility at it’s very heart, just like humility was the foundation of all of Christ’s life.
So we live by Christ’s example, acting in the Spirit, and depending on his power, yet rooting ourselves in in humility. We, too, are priests, all of us. And our priestly life, as we go about our words and deeds and actions, must be inspired by the beautiful humility of all that Christ did including his baptism in the Jordan. At that moment, God saw and was well pleased. And he looked with favour on Jesus his Son. By living like Jesus, we pray that God will also look on us with favour, that the spirit will be with us always, guide us in all of our works, and transform us into the children of God. Amen.