With this weekend’s celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the liturgical celebration of the fullness of the Christmas mystery draws to a close. We hear today the story of Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan by John. John’s baptism was a “baptism of repentance for sin,” and we well may wonder just why Jesus, who was sinless, accepted such a baptism. The answer to that question is found in who Jesus really is and what his mission is. In accepting the baptism of repentance by John, Jesus is accepting his role and his mission as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The baptism of Jesus in the waters of the Jordan foreshadows another baptism of which Jesus himself speaks, the bloody baptism that he would undergo on the cross so that sins might be forgiven and the world might be saved. We would do well to remember also that in the Fourth Gospel, John reports that “blood and water” came forth from the pierced side of Jesus, the blood being a symbol of the Eucharist, the water a symbol of baptism.
Additionally, the Gospel today tells us that the Spirit descended upon Jesus “in bodily form like a dove” and that he was proclaimed to be the beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased. This dimension of Jesus’ baptism is another “epiphany” story, a manifestation or showing forth of Jesus to the world. He is anointed by the Spirit, and thus is the “Christ” which means “anointed one.” He is also clearly identified as Son of God, who comes in the flesh to save us and show us the way to salvation.
On this Sunday when we remember the Lord’s baptism, we would do well to remember that each of us, too, has been baptized. We, too, have been anointed with the Holy Spirit, both at Baptism and again at Confirmation. We, too, are beloved children of God, brothers and sisters one to another and to Christ himself. We, too, have a mission, and that is to, in some way, be the eyes, the ears, the hands, the feet, the very heart of Christ in the world of today.
Next weekend, January 19-20, at St. Agnes we will be celebrating the feast of St. Agnes. After the 10:30 AM Mass next Sunday, the parish hall at St. Agnes will be formally dedicated to the honor of Father Francis X. Callahan in recognition of and gratitude for his many years of dedicated service as the pastor of St. Agnes’ Parish, The St. Joseph’s Men’s Society will be supplying coffee and refreshments at that occasion.
Finally, I want to announce that I have appointed two new trustees who will serve as lay members of the parish corporation for a term of up to two years. They are Suzanne Beliveau and Earl Whiskeyman. I thank them for their willingness to serve the parish in this capacity and I also thank the outgoing trustees, Mary Bissell and Jay Mraz, for their service.
Have a great week.