It is fitting that on this final feast of the season of Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ baptism, and with it our own entry into Christ’s life through the waters of baptism. During Christmas, we have reflected on the stunning recognition that God came to be one with us in Jesus Christ. Now, as we make the transition to Ordinary Time, we think about what it means to follow this same Christ, the Anointed One of God. In baptism, we too are anointed. Baptism plunges us into Christ’s death and resurrection; in baptism, we receive the Holy Spirit. Baptism, which is available to all who believe, draws us to the very heart of God. In baptism, we become the servants of the Lord, chosen ones who are called for the victory of justice, a light for the nations.

Why are you coming to me?

We can almost hear the amazement in John the Baptist’s voice as he says to Jesus, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Throughout the time that John preached and baptized people in the desert, he had been preparing people for the coming of the Messiah. Now, Jesus approaches him for baptism! We might share in his wonder. Why would Jesus, who is sinless, come to John for a baptism of repentance? Jesus’ response to John helps us understand. Jesus has come to fulfill all that is expected in the Messiah, and more. As he entered the waters of baptism, Jesus entered fully into our humanity, raising us toward God. Jesus sanctified the waters of baptism, making them holy, opening the heavens through his humble obedience to God’s plan of love.

Christ’s mission is our mission

As Jesus came out of the baptismal waters, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice from the heavens was heard saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” In joining himself to humanity, Jesus opened the heavens for us, and in doing so, was confirmed in his mission of mercy and love. In baptism, we are joined with Christ. Immersed into his life and love, his mission is our mission. It is still early in this new year. Today, reflect on your baptismal call to live as a member of Christ’s body. In what ways do you love God and others? In what ways might you grow as a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ? How are you living the mission of Christ, to make God’s love and mercy known in the world? Is Christ’s mission your mission?

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