In the West, the feast of the baptism of Jesus takes place on the Sunday following the Epiphany and thus closes the liturgical cycle of Christmas. It is one of the great events in the life of Christ, recounted by three evangelists. In fact, by the baptism of his son Jesus, God reveals himself to men, which is why this feast is said to be a "Theophany", that is to say a divine manifestation. Through his baptism in the Jordan, Christ also reveals to us the great mystery of his incarnation and the redemption he promises us!
Learn all about this great feast, through which Christ manifests himself to men and promises them salvation!
The baptism of Jesus is one of the major events in the life of Christ. It is recounted in the three Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
At this time, John the Baptist baptized in the Jordan, whose waters mark the borders with the Promised Land, as defined in the Old Testament.
John the Baptist, by baptism, calls the Jews to conversion and repentance. By this act, the baptized recognize themselves as sinners and can then enter the Promised Land to the Hebrew people.
John the Baptist also announces and prepares the coming of the Messiah: And this was his message: ‘After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’
(Mark 1:7-11). This is why, when Jesus appears before him, asking for baptism, John exclaims: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus replied: "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." (Matthew 3:13 -17)
The three evangelists then relate, each in relatively close terms, the appearance of a great sign in heaven: “and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:22)
Until the Second Vatican Council, the feast of the baptism of Jesus was celebrated on the same day as the Epiphany: in the eastern churches, which have kept this tradition, this celebration is still called the "Theophany", that is to say the "manifestation of God to men".
The baptism of Christ is indeed a major biblical event: marking the beginning of Jesus' civil life, it also manifests the deep intimacy between God and humanity. It is also the first manifestation of the Holy Trinity to men: “And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7- 11)
Thus, this event attests to the divinity of Jesus, by God the Father and with the Holy Spirit.
The feast of the baptism of Jesus is celebrated with a beautiful, luminous and joyful liturgy!
In the first reading, we read the prophet Isaiah, who calls us to conversion "Seek the Lord while he may be found" (Isaiah 55: 1-11) and announces the coming of Christ in glory "The glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh will see" (Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11).
In the second reading, the letter of Saint Paul the Apostle to Titus sheds light on the profound meaning of the baptism of Christ: “By the bath of baptism, God has made us reborn and renewed us in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 2:11 -14; 3: 4-7)
According to the liturgical year, we finally meditate on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark or Luke, each bringing a particular light to the scene of the baptism of Jesus.
The baptism of Christ by John the Baptist marks the very beginning of his public ministry: with this major event, Jesus manifests himself to men, as Saint Jerome explains to us: "In his birth, the Son of God came into the world in a hidden way, in his baptism, He appears in a manifest way". Why did Jesus want to be baptized? What theological significance does this event have?
The baptism of Jesus actually expresses the whole mystery of Christendom: the revelation of the divinity of Jesus through the Holy Trinity; the expression of the absolute humility of the son of God, bearing on him the sin of the multitudes; and finally the announcement of the death and resurrection of Christ, marking our redemption!
Through his baptism, Christ also confers on us the status of son and daughter of God and redeems us from original sin. In his letter to Tire, Saint Paul expresses it as follows: “By the bath of baptism, God has made us reborn and renewed us in the Holy Spirit” (Titus 2:11 -14; 3: 4-7)
"How good you are, my God, to be baptized for our good; everything you do, you do to glorify God, to glorify him by the perfection of your works and by the perfection of all men: love, you do everything out of love, out of love for God first, and second, as a result of this immense love with which God envelopes men. In your baptism, you spread, as in every moment of your life, an infinite love towards God, and a divine love on men. Goodness, charity, love, tender compassion, mercy spreading in a shower of benefits ... This is what all the pages of the Gospel show us: “God is love” (John 4:16)”
Excerpt from a meditation text by Charles de Foucauld
If Jesus desired to be baptized, it was “to proclaim by his humility what was a necessity for us” affirms Saint Augustine (Sermon 51, 33). By his baptism, Jesus institutes Christian baptism and launches this call: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
So, let us pray that his Holy Spirit will spread over the world, as we received him at our baptism! Join the prayer communities of Hozana to follow the call of Christ!