This past Sunday, we celebrated the Feast of our Lord’s Baptism. Meditating on the Gospel reading gives a glimpse into the profound reality of this great sacrament. The most high God went to the Jordan River to be baptized by His servant John the Baptist. The Creator lowered Himself before His creature, allowing John to cleanse Him with the life-giving water of a river in Galilee.
If you recall this scene, John himself says that it is Jesus who should baptize him. Yet, Jesus asks for his baptism. He does this because He wants to identify with us. Although He was God, He started His public life by humbling Himself to our sinful nature.
When I pray the Lauds, one of the most striking passages is the Psalm Prayer, “Father, He who knew no sin was made sin for us, to save us and restore us to your friendship.” Jesus is not only compassionate for our sinful nature. Jesus, the most pure, good and holy God, chose to “become” sin for our sake. He “became” sin so that poor sinful humanity could be freed from the slavery to sin. He took on the full weight of all the sins of mankind from Adam and Eve till the end of time.
Thus in Philippians 2, “Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”
And it is this death on the cross and the resurrection from the dead which grants the divine life we receive in baptism. We all know that Baptism makes us the sons and daughters of God. Yet the Son of God had to become man, so that man could become like God.
God’s love is a creative love, ever fruitful. The Paschal Mystery was the definitive manifestation of God’s love. Through the Paschal Mystery Christ merited sanctifying grace for man. It is in our Baptism that we first receive this sanctifying grace. This sanctifying grace is a participation in the life of God Himself. Sanctifying grace is God living His life in us. Hence, Christ’s Baptism manifests Jesus taking part in our life. Our Baptism is when we take part in the divine life of God. What a sublime dignity!
This is why Baptism is such a monumental sacrament. It is in Baptism that God’s life is born in us. We are not only His children by name. We are His children because of the divinity in our souls. Knowing this, let us try to give more importance to our Baptism. Instead of merely celebrating our birthdays, why don’t we also celebrate our Baptismal anniversary? After all in the scheme of eternal life, this is our true birthday.