The text (Mark 1:7-11) narrates the “third manifestation” of Jesus we find in the Gospels: The Nativity, the Epiphany and today the revelation of Jesus’ identity in his baptism. Today’s celebration of the Baptism of the Lord will conclude the Christmas Season. Let us reflect that even though the Christmas ends today, Christmas never ends. I will share with you three points to ponder why Christmas never ends.
First, the baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity. It reminds us of who we are and to whom we belong. Since we were children, we were taught that by baptism we become the adoptive sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, heirs of Heaven and temples of the Holy Spirit. We become incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made sharers in the priesthood of Christ [CCC1279].
The Gospel passage emphasizes that when Jesus “came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove” (v. 10). The imprint of the Holy Spirit sealed his life. Here we are being reminded that the moment we received our baptism we were marked by the Spirit and we are called to participate and follow the movements of the Holy Spirit within us. The Spirit that transmits the tenderness of divine forgiveness to us, the Spirit that gives new life.
Second, Jesus’ baptism reminds us of our mission. Jesus receives affirmation from his Father when He says, ”You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (v. 11). God’s approval of Jesus is the assurance that Jesus will fulfill his Messianic mission of salvation. In the depths of the water, he entered into the depths of his own humanity and the depths of his people. He was baptized into the life of his people. Jesus was sent to dwell among us, to share our own condition, to accept both good and bad experiences of life. For this, all of us must acknowledge God’s presence within us and appreciate the Divine presence in others by honoring, loving and serving them, especially the poor around us. Through our baptism, we are reminded to be co-creators in building up the “Kingdom of God” on earth, a kingdom of compassion, justice and love and to be the light and the salt of the Earth. Now, do I see myself at the service of his people?
Third, we are invited to be faithful to our baptismal promises and commitment. Pope Francis said, “the Baptism of the Lord is an opportunity to renew our own baptismal promises, committing ourselves to live daily in a manner consistent with it.” It means to live as the children of God in thought, word and action. To live a holy life, and transparent Christian life. To grow daily in intimacy with God by reading and contemplating the Word of God, in our prayer, service to one another and through the sacraments we receive. Lastly, by renewing our baptismal promises, we consecrate ourselves to the Most Holy Trinity and “reject Satan” and all his empty promises that he offers in our world today.
Empowered by with the presence of the Spirit, and elevated as a beloved Child by God, on whom God’s favor rest. We are called to be a light, to bear Christ in bearing one another’s burden in love, as Jesus, the beloved Son of God carried us. It makes resonate within me the words of our father Founder, Blessed Francisco Palau, “Because I love you, Oh Church, I seek in service, the means of pleasing you.” (MR 9,7) Let us thank Jesus for the privilege of being joined to His mission of preaching the “Good news” of love, peace, hope, mercy, service and forgiveness. Indeed, Christmas never ends if we continue to be faithful in sharing God’s manifestation (Epiphany) in our lives toward others.
Sharon S. Villafranca, CMT
Reina del Carmelo Community