Isaiah 42: 1-4, 6-17 Acts 10: 34-38 Matthew 3: 13-17
As a Church, we officially close our celebration of the Christmas Season, when were called that God came into our world in the person of Jesus Christ, by hearing an account of what took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. In the life of the Church, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the culmination of what Christmas celebrates because it is the initiation of Jesus’ public work to reveal God to the world.
In reality, Christmas and its surrounding events is a preparation for this liturgical feast. In the story of Christmas, the Lord is revealed in different ways. He is proclaimed by angels. He is seen by the faithful poor of Israel, represented by the shepherds. He is revealed to the Gentiles, the non-Jews, in the person of the Magi. The Baptism of the Lord, as Jesus stands before John to be baptized and as he is called “the Beloved Son” by his Heavenly Father, is the beginning of the ministry of Jesus to the world. It is the beginning too of a new adventure in the history of the world. Now all the world is to know that he is the Chosen One, the beloved one of the Father who has come into our world to renew it.
What is the ministry of Jesus, then, to be? He is to reveal the Father’s love and to lead us to the Father. In addition, he is calling on us to join in his work, to be part of his ministry. As we listened to the words of Isaiah today, we can easily apply them to Jesus. But what is described, the servant, is also to be us. Jesus began his public work and teaching to lead us to be servants with him.
Each of us has been chosen by God. We are beloved sons and daughters of God. Each of us is called to establish the justice that is light to the blind. Each of us is called to free prisoners from the darkness of mind and heart. Each of us is to do this as the servants are described: not shouting out, but in the quiet of our daily lives.
The Baptism of the Lord is the beginning of the ministry of Jesus but it is also a call to us to renew our ministry as part of the Body of Christ. Where is his ministry revealed today, but in us? Where is the servant found who brings forth justice, the saving, loving will of the Father, but in us?
How is this be carried out? Not by shouting and display, but in the manner in which we live day to day. It is to be found in our prayer, in our example, in our words, in our actions. All of these are to make known, to reveal and reflect the Lord.
All of the celebrations of the Christmas Season are directed at showing forth the Lord. What point would there be to these celebrations if this central message is not conveyed? All of us have been given the task of carrying on the mission of Christ that was begun at his baptism and is to be continued through our own baptisms. All of us are called upon to reflect in our lives a living faith and trust in our good and gracious God,