THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD: LUKE 3:15-16

Today we are celebrating the Baptism of Jesus. The Baptism scene shows us Jesus’ divine and human dimensions. On the other hand, we see in the baptism scene that God acknowledges and accepts Jesus: “You are my Beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity – who we are and whose we are. By baptism, we become sons and daughters of God and members of God’s Church. Hence, “Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments.” By baptism, we are receiving the seed of faith and we have to nurture and grow this seed by producing good fruits of God’s love, joy, peace, and so on.

Let me share with you a real story: Giacomo Puccini was a famous Italian play writer and actor, who lived in the twentieth century. His last opera is called “The daughter of Turan.” Before he completed his writings, he got cancer and he called his performers and told them his final wish: “I will die, but my play should not die.” After a couple of years of hard work, his performers completed the unfinished writings of Puccini and performed at the theater in Milan. Before the final part of the show, the performers announced to the audience that until this last part of the show, Puccini had completed his writings, but his performers had completed the rest of the show. At the end of the show, the audience gave great recognition to Puccini’s performers, because without losing the real beauty and spirit of Puccini’s play, they had completed the play well.

This real story gives us the message that each one of us is called to continue and witness the spirit of Jesus by receiving our own baptism. Whatever vocations we have received, whether family life, single life, the religious life, or priestly life, we have to witness Jesus and we should continue the spirit of baptism in our lives wherever we are. Good parents — when they show good examples to their children and lead them on right paths — they are continuing God’s call. When children listen to their parents and live responsible lives, they are continuing God’s call. When we use God given gifts and talents for the betterment of our brothers and sisters, we are continuing God’s call.

Also, Jesus’ Baptism reminds us of our mission: to experience the presence of God within us, to acknowledge our own dignity as God’s children, and to appreciate the divine presence in others by honoring them, loving them, and serving them with humility. We should live as children of God in our thoughts, words, and actions, so that our Heavenly Father may say to each of us, “You are my beloved sons and daughters in whom I am well pleased.”

The Gospel also brings before us the picture of John the Baptist. John’s powerful approach goes against the attitude of today’s world, where one takes credit for oneself. John was not interested in showing his name upheld nor does he want to take any pride in the fact that he baptized Jesus. John was always talking about Jesus and he brought others to Jesus by witnessing humility in his life.

Today, we too are called “beloved” in our baptisms. We become beloved for others only through our close and deep relationships with others. Let us have close and deep relationships with Jesus and let us re-live the experience of baptism and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit abiding in us!