Jesus presents Himself for this ministry and John wants Jesus to not ask for baptism. John is not worthy, but Jesus asks to have the law fulfilled.
When the Law has been fulfilled and Jesus emerges from the waters of the Law, Jesus sees and hears Who He is to the Father. He is the one in Whom the Father is well-pleased. It is now public and God’s Spirit will urge Him to His staying faithful to this New Law of living according to the Spirit. His identity will be challenged and others will doubt, but Jesus Himself will not shout out in the streets, but present the gentleness and justice of God. He will not quench the small flames nor bruise a tender reed, but give breath and life for the light and life of all.
I have been privileged to celebrate with my family of origin and their families, baptisms of newly-born little Irish nieces and nephews into our family and their church communities. They have all been joys to their parents and grandparents especially their uncle. We would renew our vows and hopefully our own spirits of trying. We would pass the child around the family circle and each prayed a special prayer of welcome and blessing. We have always done this and as I listened to each of my family member’s wish and prayer, I sense, knowing as I do each person, that this is also a prayer for and about themselves. One will wish that the new member be a person whom others will find a peaceful place. My Doctorate-brother might pray that she grow in wisdom and lead others by that wisdom to a sense of justice. My fun-loving brother, (aka Uncle Funny) always prayed a sincere prayer that she bring light and life into the lives of all who meet her. See, they are praying, not so much for the child, but for themselves as they really are and as others find them. It seems that what is important to who we are, we pray that same grace for others and that our graces be used well.
We are baptized into Jesus’ being the Beloved of the Father. We are equally baptized into our being sent to extend Jesus life and Spirit into this world. The likelihood is that we are already living that grace. We always want more of all good things. We want more of God’s good spirit. We have been immersed in it and it is good on this day of Jesus’ Baptism to reflect on the truth of how we are extending his Light, hearing and speaking his goodness and keeping our garments clean. We are invited to hear ourselves what Jesus heard from the day of his baptism until his death, we are beloved and God is well-pleased with us as we try.
A special prayer is made, during the baptism ritual, over our ears that we might hear what Jesus heard, the constant invitation to be the beloved of the Father. Those same ears hear other invitations to be identified by achievements, possessions or power. Jesus heard those voices as well and stayed faithful to his baptismal identity. That same identifying Father claims each of us every time we hear at the time of Holy Reception, “The Body of Christ” to which we reverently say, “Amen”.
“The Lord will Bless His People With Peace.” Ps. 29
Larry Gillick, SJ