John’s Baptism vs. Christian Baptism
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. It marks the end of the Christmas Season. Last week we celebrated Epiphany, marked by the visitation of the Magi to the child Jesus. By that visitation, the truth about Jesus was revealed to the “nations,” represented by the Magi. The revelation of the God of Israel began to shine beyond the Jews.
The Baptism of the Lord is one more of the “epiphanies” of Jesus. At his baptism in the Jordan, as the voice came from heaven and as the Holy Spirit descended, Jesus’ true identity was revealed. The Lord’s baptism also points to his close connection with the people he came to save, as well as the beginning of his public ministry.
The baptism of John the Baptist was a baptism of repentance meant to prepare people’s hearts to turn away from sin and thus be ready to recognize the Messiah when he came on the scene. It is a reminder that sin always blinds us and prevents us from clearly seeing God’s presence in our lives.
Christian baptism, while similar to John’s baptism because it washes away sins, is something much more. When one undergoes Christian baptism, one is baptized with the Holy Spirit and dies with Christ in the waters of baptism and rises with him to new life. We are born anew in the waters of baptism – born once by nature and again, in baptism, by grace. We become an adopted son or daughter of the Most-High God through the merits of the One who is the only Son of God by nature, Jesus Christ. We become a member of the Church and a temple of the Holy Spirit.
When the grace of baptism is completed in the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are equipped to be witnesses to the Gospel and co-workers with the Lord in bringing others to know him. Baptism is a sublime gift!
Sincerely yours in Christ Jesus, the Way, the Truth and the Life,