In our life there can be many turning points. One very important one among them is our Baptism, when we dedicated ourselves to God. Today as we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord it gives us an opportunity to evaluate our own baptism. For Jesus his baptism was a turning point in his life and in salvation history. In Jesus’ life it made him fully aware of his mission, and it was the inauguration of the Messianic Kingdom. In salvation history, with this event the preparation and awaiting for the Messiah, and the work of the last prophet, John the Baptist, ended and the Messiah takes over. Thus begins the New Testament, the Messianic era.
Baptism was the inauguration of Jesus’ mission. John the Baptist was preparing the people for this inaugural function calling them for repentance and conversion. John recognizes Jesus as the one who was to come, about him John had told, “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” (Mt. 3:11)
In this solemn event of Jesus’ baptism we see the presence of the Most Holy Trinity. God the Father endorsing Jesus as His Son, “You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased.” (Lk. 3:22) The Holy Spirit came down upon him in bodily form, like a dove. (Lk. 3:21)
The voice of the Father from heaven, and the presence of the Holy Spirit descending like a dove served to identify Jesus as the Son of God and inaugurate his Messianic Mission. From his baptism onward it was evident that he was more than Mary’s son, that Nazareth was not his only home, that he had talents other than carpentry and that he belonged no longer to himself or to his family but to God and all of sinful humankind. God was recreating or restoring creation to the pristine wholeness and holiness it had known prior to human sin.
On this holy occasion of the baptism of our Lord it would be proper to reflect on our own baptism, its purpose, effects and the way we live it. At the time of our baptism too the heavenly Father accepts us as his children. And therefore being baptized into Jesus we have to continue the mission that Jesus has begun. By accepting baptism we too share in the task of creating a new world and becoming a new people, cooperating with Jesus it is our duty to work and make known God’s plan of salvation. He has given us the holy Spirit and fire (zeal) to do it effectively. That is the way we can love and honor our Lord and fulfill our baptismal vocation. May that fire burn within us and around us.