This Sunday marks the end of the Christmas season. All of the anticipation of Advent followed by the celebration of Christmas has thoroughly worn me out. The gift buying, the travel, the family get-togethers are all over and I am left empty. Now what?
This Sunday’s first reading comes from the prophet Isaiah says, “Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit;” These words are echoed in the Gospel after Jesus is baptized at the hands of John. “And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” In that moment, God claimed Jesus as his son in front of all who witnessed. I’ve often wondered about those who were there and why we hear nothing more of them. I’m sure it wasn’t everyday that they heard a voice from heaven. Shouldn’t they be permanently changed by the event? Would I have been?
Jesus, being both fully man and fully God, did not need to be baptized as we do. He had no sin to be cleansed of so why bother? Just as he humbled himself and became man, so too did he humble himself to be baptized by John. This simple gesture proved to be more significant as time went on. Jesus’ baptism marks the beginning of his public ministry. However, this public ministry could not begin until he entered the desert for 40 days. At his baptism, he emptied his human self and allowed the Grace he needed to enter him so he could endure the desert. His Divine nature did not lesson his human suffering in the desert. Nor was he spared the agony of his crucifixion. After his resurrection, he instructed his apostles “to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” Baptism clearly is fundamental to living a Christian life.
Just as Jesus was claimed as the Son of God at his baptism, so too are we claimed as God’s adopted sons and daughters. We are made new, filled with the grace needed not only to endure life’s suffering but also to fulfill our calling, even when we are fatigued. Jesus cried out for his Father’s help many times during his earthly ministry. Whether we are headed back to school or work at the end of this Christmas season, let us tap into the Grace given to us at our baptism for strength to live a life that glorifies God. Then hopefully one day the words can be spoken of us, “This is my beloved son (or daughter) of whom I am well pleased.”