Closing of Christmastide is today. Boy, has he grown, last week he was a toddler and this week he is 30 years old. Don’t worry on February 2nd he will be 12 years old. This seemingly confusing liturgical year timeline isn’t confusing at all. It is not meant to be an historical timeline; it is meant to reveal to each of us Jesus Chris. Saint Maximus of Turin wrote in explanation:

Reason demands that this feast of the Lord’s baptism which I think could be called the feast of his birthday, should follow soon after the Lord’s birthday, during the same season, even though many years intervened between the two events. At Christmas he was born a man’ today he is reborn sacramentally. Then he was born from the Virgin, today he is born in mystery. When he was born a man his mother Mary held him close to her heart; when he is born in mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice when He says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.[1]

Today, also is the start of Jesus’ public ministry. Today, Jesus starts His journey towards His crucifixion – from the river to cross. We start our journey with Him. But what is our goal? Well of course the goal is heaven, spending eternity with our God. The bible states what eternity is: ‘And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do.[2]

And to get there, to be with Jesus in heaven requires us to journey as Jesus did. Today’s gospel[3] proclaims to us. ‘In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.” [4]As with Jesus so with us. We desire that God is ‘well pleased[5] with each of us.

In Matthew we see that this desire, this hunger for a ‘healing’ was practically universal. ‘And there went out to him all the country of Judea, and all the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.[6] The people desired to be whole and they knew they weren’t, there was an emptiness that they couldn’t get rid of. When the John the Baptist came they went to him to see and maybe succeed in relieving this loneliness this emptiness.

John tells them it isn’t Him but the one who comes after. ‘And he preached, saying, ‘“After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”[7] We hear at the start of today’s Gospel. And Jesus arrives, He participates, and He elevates the whole ritual. People see and hear the Holy Trinity – they are aware; they have an epiphany of what God has in store for them and what they hunger for ‘with thee I am well pleased’[8]

But, now the question arises: how do I please our Heavenly Father? It is to the second reading that we look to find this answer. ‘For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.[9] We please God by living the life that we are called to by Him, our creator. We embrace the Father and all that entails.

Brothers and sisters, it is imperative that as children of God we come to grips with both the goal of our baptism and the obligation it calls us to. In this past year we have witnessed horrible things here in our country. People of differing opinions have shown what happens when we push God aside and we ignore our baptismal gift. We have seen citizens turn to violence because they feel trapped and they can’t recognize the divine within each of us. We have seen what the world can be if we don’t look up. We are stubborn people; after the horrors of the twentieth century we seemingly haven’t learned anything. Technology and science have bounded forward but left morality and love behind. When God is ignored man fills the void and what happens is anything but human. Lets embrace our baptism, let’s strive to hear God speak of us: with thee I am well pleased.[10]

[1] Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours Friday after Epiphany
[2] Jn 17:3-4
[3] Mk 1:7-11
[4] Mk 1: 9-11
[5] Mk 1:11
[6] Mk 1:5
[7] Mk 1:7-8
[8] Mk 1:11
[9] 1 Jn 5:3
[10] Mk 1: 11