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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BAPTISM OF CHRIST. A reflection for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year B.
By Fr. Donatus Okeke
Sun, 10 Jan 2021

Readings: Isaiah 55:1-11;1John 5:1-9; Gospel: Mark 1:7-11
 
Today, the Church celebrates the baptism of the Lord. This feast traditionally marks the end of the Christmas season as well as the beginning of the Ordinary time of the liturgical year. The baptism of Jesus ushered him into his public ministry. He was no longer confined in the family of Nazareth. This helps us to understand the Church’s idea of beginning the Ordinary time of the liturgical calendar after the celebration of the feast of baptism.  
 
The First Reading invites us to the living water - the water of Christ's baptism. With his baptism, Christ sanctified the waters of baptism for our salvation. This invitation is only for those who are thirsty. In the Church, the basic condition for the reception of the sacrament of baptism is faith. Infants are baptized based on the faith of their parents.
 
St. John in the Second Reading, gives three witnesses to authenticate the divine sonship of Christ. Namely: water, blood and the Spirit. These three witnesses are present at the baptism of Christ.
 
In the Gospel, St. Mark presents a short account of the baptism of Jesus Christ. 
It is important to note that the baptism of Christ is different from that of John the Baptist. John himself confirms this in the Gospel: "I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit." Just as John prepared the way of the Lord, his baptism prepared for the baptism of Christ. Thus, we can say that John’s baptism laid the foundation for Christian baptism. The baptism of Christ upgraded baptism to the level of a sacrament. 
 
Some significant points about The baptism of Jesus could be as follows:
1.The baptism of Jesus sanctified the waters of baptism. Christ is baptized not that he may be sanctified in the waters, but that he himself may sanctify the waters, and by his own purification may purify those streams that he touches.
 
2.This was to reassert his solidarity with humanity.
 
3.The baptism of Jesus confirmed him as the Son of God (divinity). We receive our own confirmation as adopted sons of God, during our baptism. And we enter into communion with the Trinity.
 
4.For St. Augustine, Christ was baptized because, “he wished to do what he will command all to do”. Jesus is always an exemplary leader. Thus, we must be able to show good examples to others.
 
5.Jesus being baptized by John The Baptist, shows the self-abasement of Christ –stripping himself of his divinity. Jesus came to be baptized with others in the River Jordan. This is a sign of humility that we Christians are called to emulate.
 
6.Jesus’ public mission started after his baptism. Thus, baptism is a preparation for mission. One cannot receive other sacraments without baptism. "It is the gateway to the life in the Spirit ...and the door which gives access to other sacraments." (CCC 1213).
 
Beloved in Christ, today's celebration helps us to remember our own baptism. Let us renew our baptismal promises and the gifts we received at baptism.
 

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