Eucharistic Readings for the First Sunday after the Epiphany Year A
“But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented.” (Matthew 3: 15)
So Jesus comes to John to be baptized and John has second thoughts. But Baptism is in many ways like crucifixion, you must be handed over into the hands of others for it to be done to you. One does not baptize one’s self. It is in this way we are communal. We need, and must have others in whom we place ourselves. This then, according to our Lord Jesus, fulfills all righteousness.
“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.” (Matthew 3: 16)
This coming up out of the water has been interpreted in at least two ways. It could mean that as he was pushed beneath the surface of the water (full emersion) and that his face being brought back above the surface on the way up; or , it could mean as he was stepping back up on the bank, out of the water where he knelt while John took water in his hands and lifted it over Jesus’ head. Either way, baptism is baptism. My most memorable baptism was also in the Jordan where almost 50 Christian clergy were on tour to the Holy Land. That water was really cold!
In Matthew’s Gospel we hear the voice of God speaking to us, “And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”” (Matthew 3: 17) The voice doesn’t say “You” as if speaking to Jesus directly. The voice informs us that this is our Lord Jesus and that God is so pleased with him.
Baptism is one of two Holy Sacraments for Christians, the other being Holy Communion. In accordance with the Canons of our Church one must be baptized before receiving Communion. This makes One Baptism for the forgiveness of sins the preeminent sacrament. I personally believe that even after the water stops moving over us, the Holy Spirit continues moving over us always.
Let us hear what the Spirit is saying to and through the saints of God and then ponder anew what the Almighty can do. John