Jesus Descended into the Jordan For Us

Gospel Reflection
The Baptism of the Lord Year A
Jesus Descended into the Jordan For Us 
 
For the Church, the cycle of Christmas feasts ends today with the Baptism of the Lord.  Why of all days does it end with this feast?  What does Jesus’ baptism have to do with his birth?  Today most children of Christian parents are already baptized soon after birth, but it was different at the time when John the Baptizer made his call to repentance.  Many followed his call and went down to him to the Jordan in order to confess their sins and to be submerged in the Jordan for the forgiveness of their sins.  In the gospel of Luke, we hear that soldiers, prostitutes, and tax collectors were among those who came to receive the baptism. 
 
And then suddenly in their midst, it is Jesus!  John shrinks back.  He asks Jesus:  What are you doing in such company?  After all, you have no need of repentance.  I need baptism, not you!  Nevertheless, it is fitting to “fulfill all  righteousness.”  How?  What moves him to take this step.  His baptism is his anointing for ministry.  The ministry of taking on the sins of many, taking them down to the Jordan to be washed clean.  They are washed by the giving of his life on the cross.   
 
The first act of Jesus in his public ministry after thirty years in Nazareth as a laborer with his family was his whole life agenda.  Right from the beginning Jesus takes up the place of communion with us poor sinners.  Even his name expresses this.  Jesus, in Hebrew means, “God saves.”  The angel had explained to Joseph in a dream that this was the reason for calling the child that Mary was expecting Jesus: “For he will save his people form their sins.” 
 
He does not look with contempt at the people around him who have come to John.  Rather, he takes their side.  And in doing so, does the will of the Father with the Father’s approval, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” 
 
Christmas has not been celebrated in vain if we see this great love of God with our hearts: that God loves us all and for this reason sent his Son as the Son of Man to the lost, so that they could again find the way back into the house where he is with the Father.  Then, God can again say to each of us, “You too are my beloved child!” Merry Christmas! 
 
 Father Tony