THE BAPTISM(S) OF THE LORD
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Mt 3: 13-17)
Christ was yet to be baptised (immersed) in the “baptism” of His death-and-resurrection (cf. His question to James and John: “Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?” Mk 10: 38b). Just as He chose to make His way to that, our “new” kind of baptism, as one amongst sinners, being crucified between two criminals, He also subjected Himself to the “old” baptism of John, as one of us. Christ sanctifies John’s baptism “in water for repentance” (Mt 3: 11a), thus making Himself present to all our repentances; thus making all our “waters,” including our tears, life-bringing and transfigurative, when we choose to be clothed in Him.
As those on the “New” Calendar celebrate the Eve of the Lord’s Baptism today, and those of us on the Older Calendar are preparing to greet Him in Bethlehem, I’m thinking that we continue, on our cross-carrying journeys, to be immersed in both baptisms – the one in the “water” of our tears “for repentance,” and the one in the now-sanctified, by Christ’s immersion in it, water, filled “with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Mt 3: 3b, 11b). So let me open my heart to the fire of the Holy Spirit today, by confessing my sins and making the positive change that is “repentance.” Thank You, Lord, for being baptised with the baptism that we are baptised with, and showing us the Way to new life in You.