1/9/2023 (Monday) Today’s gospel reading: Matthew 3:13-17
13 Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
14 John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”
15 Jesus said to him in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him.
16 After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.
17 And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”
1/9/2023 (Monday) Today’s gospel reflection: Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus need not be baptized by John because He is sinless. Yet Jesus wanted to be baptized to “fulfill all righteousness”. Obviously, baptism is very important not just to John but to Jesus Himself. The event did not only mark the beginning of His public ministry but it also made known to one and all that Jesus is indeed the Son of God, the Messiah.
And so it is with our own baptism. When we are baptized, we do not only make publicly our membership of the family of Christ but it also marked our adoption as children of God and thus we become heirs of His Kingdom (Romans 8:16-17). Like Jesus during His baptism, we too become the beloved sons and daughters of God. After all He is our Father who loves us dearly. For this reason, we must never take our baptism for granted. It is a holy rite that makes us identify with Jesus.
Therefore, as baptized individuals, we try to do our best with the guidance and strength of the Holy Spirit to live our life in such a manner that is pleasing to God. In short, we endeavor to be like Jesus who lived to serve and to offer His life for His people even if it means death. This is what St. Paul says of being “baptized into Christ,” “baptized into His death,” and “buried with Him in baptism” (Romans 6:3-4). For it is only when we are baptized this way that we can be able to have new life.
The challenge then to all of us who are “baptized into Christ” is to live a life of holiness. This maybe a tall order but when we learn to be a loving person to others even to those unlovable, then we understand what holiness means. It has very little if not nothing to do with religion but it has everything to do with kindness and awareness of God’s loving presence in us and in the other person.
That this gospel reading is read and meditated early in the new year is of no coincidence. The baptism of Jesus makes us reflect on our own baptism and reminds us of our call to be pleasing to God above all else. May each new year be an opportunity to reinvigorate our desire to please our loving Father.