C Cycle – Baptism of the Lord 22
Lk. 3:15-16, 21-22
It is so easy for us to get caught up in the story we overlook the reason God gave us the scriptures. They are God’s revelation of himself; his revelation of his plan to restore us; and they provide us a way to respond to him. We as a people are fiercely independent and because we are independent, we are driven to take control of our “righteousness” before God. All that achieves for us is a dependence on the law and rituals to guide us instead of allowing what God has done to make us righteous.
John preached a baptism of repentance and that resonates with us because we understand sin, temptation, and our own tendencies to fall when sin entices us. Jesus did not stand before John in the Jordan because he sinned, but he did it to teach us something about God’s grace and love. God plan for us was to experience restoration and a new birth by water and the Spirit. God was showing us the first step of surrendering our will and allow something so simple as water to change us. Jesus shows us what God is offering us will come from the living water Jesus offers us and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit poured upon us. He makes something we see and touch every day extraordinary in our lives. Jesus is showing us how our baptism is a life changing event
After I give this homily, I will be baptizing two infants and it is a remarkable sacrament we all receive. But how many of us ever reflect on what God did within us that day we were baptized. It is more than having original sin removed from us. God designed baptism to be the beginning of what Paul tells us is a rebirth, a foundation for becoming what God intended us to become, new creations in Christ. That day God instituted the second sacrament of the Church – baptism. The first by the way was matrimony which God instituted when Adam and Eve became one flesh.
As the waters of baptism were dripping off Jesus, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and we see another sacrament instituted, confirmation. The Spirit, whom God promised he would send us to change our hearts descends upon Jesus. The Sprit whom God said would form us, teach us, mold us, and reveal all things to us cam e upon the human Jesus that day. There is something very powerful being conveyed to us by this action of Jesus. I believe it is showing us how much we need to submit to God’s plan for us for without it we would not be able to overcome the temptation Jesus would face as the Spirit leads him into the desert.
We know from the scriptures the Spirit drives Jesus into the desert where he spends the next forty days in prayer and fasting. We also know the devil tempted his weak human nature to overwhelm his desire to do God’s will. Another lesson the baptism of Jesus happened was to show us how we can shed our independence and rely on the Spirit to prepare us for a life following the will of God. We need to appropriate the grace of our own anointing of the Spirit to open our eyes and ears to the promptings of God and help us reflect on what we hear and help us to respond on those revelations.
You see the empowering by God in people being anointing by oil. The Levitical priest anointed to offer sacrifice for the people of God. Then you see the anointing of the prophets as they were anointed to proclaim the Word of God to the people. Touching their hearts and not only calling them to turn back to God but to allow God to heal them, guide them and be with them. We seek the anointing of King David as God empowers him to guide the people, defeat their enemies and give them peace. Finally, the scriptures tell us Jesus was called the anointed one, the Messiah, the Christ.
This day in the scriptures Jesus, who set aside his divinity to become fully human had his human nature empowered and equipped for his mission to restore our glory. He was anointed on this day to become priest, prophet, and king as we were when we were baptized. This day is also a revelation of the entirety of the Trinity at work to change us. It also shows us how we need the transforming power of God in our lives to become disciples and witnesses to the reason Jesus came to earth. To bring us back into right standing with God. To show us how much we need the empowering of the Spirit to do God’s will. To show us how we like the woman at the well needs to draw from the living water all we need to change and become witnesses as she did.
The fact that the Spirit comes upon Jesus should be a moment of revelation for us. Our own reception of the Spirit is a critical step in our becoming bold witnesses or anointed ones. We are anointed just as Jesus was to proclaim the message of salvation. Unfortunately, we do not seem to tap into the transforming power of the Spirit we received at baptism and when we were confirmed. Why is the real question and the answer is where we began with our independence nature driving us to become righteous on our own. If Jesus needed the grace of baptism and the infilling of the Spirit to empower his mission, why would we ever think we could do it alone.