Today, we look at an adult Jesus. The child of the manger has grown to manhood and respectability, and reaches that place in life when He must embark on the Divine commission entrusted to Him by the Father. In preparation, He joins the candidates who have responded to John the Baptist in the Jordan River, submitting to baptism at his hands to wash away their sins.
It is at that time and place that God reveals Him as His Son: «Then, while He was praying, the heavens opened: the Holy Spirit came down upon Him in the bodily form of a dove and a voice from Heaven was heard, 'You are my Son, this day I have begotten you'» (Lk 3:21-22). It is just the preparatory stage of the Great Journey He is prepared to start off all the way to the Cross. It is the first public act of His ministry, and marks the divine manifestation of Him to the world as the promised Messiah.
His baptism is also the prologue to his life, demonstrating that He has chosen to be obedient to the will of His Father: a sign that He will not be an agitator, nor a rabble-rouser, but He will be gentle, peaceful, and calm. He will not even break a bruised reed, but he will rule with justice. He will open the eyes of the blind, and free the captives. The signs by which the Messiah will be known, as described by Isaiah, will be fulfilled in Him, and we stand blessed by Him, as we read today in Saint Paul's letter: «He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life» (Tit 3:5-7).
The feast of the Baptism of our Lord serves to remind us of our own Baptisms, compelling us to renew the promises our parents and godparents made on our behalf, when they presented us to the Church, to make of us disciples of Jesus. «Baptism has liberated us from all evil, which are the sins, but with God’s grace we have to accomplish all good things» (Saint Cesaire, bishop of Arles).