Scripture: Lectionary # 218. I John 5:14-21. Psalm 149:1-2,3-4.5-6.9.
Epiphany is coming to an end. Tomorrow we will celebrate the Baptism of
Jesus in the Jordan by John the Baptist. If we look back on the days
before Epiphany we will see that the Scriptures were revealing to us who
Jesus really is. This past week not only was he revealed through one
Gospel but through all four. Today we end the Epiphany Gospels with the
great theological Gospel of John. His symbol is the eagle and we can look
upon Jesus with the perspective of the Fourth Gospel’s eagle eye!
The Gospel gives us a flashback that helps us recall John the Baptist who
led us through the season of Advent and prepared us for the coming of the
Lord. The excerpt also prepares us for the Baptism of Jesus which is
present in a direct way in the Synoptic Gospels and indirectly in John’s
Gospel. We may ask why the Son of God had to undergo this baptism of John
since he was innocent and totally sinless? One theologian of the past
says that Jesus purifies the waters of the Jordan which symbolize all
waters. Thus when we are baptized with water and the Holy Spirit we, too,
are purified and given the gifts of the Spirit. Those Jordan waters were
consecrated by the Lord of eternal life giving waters. We are to return to
that moment of Baptism and recall what it means in our lives today.
All Christian believers are baptized with water in the name of the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit. St. Matthew concludes his Gospel with this
sacramental reference: “Full authority has been given to me both in heaven
and on earth; go, therefore, make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them
to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you
always, until the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20). Jesus thus shows
us the importance of Baptism and that he is always with us as our Emmanuel
just as we learned this name in Matthew’s first chapter verse 23.
John the Baptist is honest and totally transparent with humility. He
considers himself to be the bestman of the bridegroom. We are the Church
which is the spouse of Jesus Christ when we are baptized. John shows us
that Jesus must increase and we like John must decrease. This is how we
become one with Jesus and are able then to do all he commands us; we are
his present day apostles sent on mission in the world. We share with Jesus
in the creative actions of redemption as his agents who work closely with
him and under the guidance of his Holy Spirit.
In I John we have this powerful verse: “And we are in the One who is true,
for we are in his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.”
At the baptism of Jesus by John we have heard the voice of God saying,
“This is my Son in whom I am well pleased, listen to him.” We pray with our
Psalm verse and response: “Glory to Christ who is proclaimed to the world.
Glory from all who believe in him.” (based on Psalm 149:4) Amen.