“You are my Son, the beloved; in you, I have put all my joy.” – Read Luke 3: 21–38
Baptism is Jesus’ fundamental choice: He makes Himself a brother because He is the Son and He is the Son because He makes Himself a brother.
Different from Adam, He accepts the Father’s love and different from Cain, He loves His brethren. Witnessing the Father’s love to us in His love as a brother, He gives us back our true nature as children of God, capable of loving as we are loved. In this way, He heals us from the poison that is at the origin of all evils.
Jesus’ mission that will end at Golgotha starts at the Jordan. His baptism which will be completed on the mountain starts at the river. Here, He is queuing with sinners; there, He is crucified between robbers. Here, He plunges into the water; there, into death. Here, the heavens are opened; there, the veil of the temple is torn. Here, He receives the Spirit; there,
He gives up the Spirit. Here, the Father calls Him Son; there, the centurion recognizes Him as such (Mark 15: 39).
The two scenes frame and interpret Jesus’ activity. His mission is “to deal with the things of the Father” (Luke 2: 49) whose ‘work’ is to love His children.
Since eternity, God has thought of how to save humanity who had escaped from Him out of fear.
For thirty years, the Son, whom God had sent incognito, stayed in place, studying how He could make Himself close to His brothers and sisters without scaring them. He did not find anything better than to immerse Himself in their condition, in solidarity with them by a love stronger than death.
To receive baptism means to immerse oneself, to go down to the bottom. In order to stay with us, sinners and evildoers, He has plunged into every abyss of evil. He came to meet us where we are, far from life and love, in the depths of our loneliness and death. Accepting to be “hanged on a tree”, He “became a curse” and “sin” for our sake (Gal 3: 13; 2 Cor 5: 21).
Adam wanted to be like the god the enemy had suggested. Here, we see who God really is: Love. We make our limitations a place of struggle against ourselves and others. God makes every limitation, even that of sin and death, a place of solidarity and companionship. We are like God because we accept our limitations and live by them in solidarity and freedom, not because of the qualities that we often use to prevail over others.
The evangelist Luke introduces Jesus already baptised, while praying. We also are already baptized, and, like Him, only on the strength of our prayer which is our communion with the Father, can we live our baptism which is our communion with our brothers and sisters.
Where solidarity is, the heavens open on the earth: the Creator’s Spirit who was hovering over the waters in Genesis, is present among us. It is He who creates the new world where the children of God live like brothers and sisters, loving one another with the same love of the Father. Where there is love, there God is present. In the Son who loves the brethren, the Spirit and the Father are present: the earth becomes the dwelling place of the Trinity, filled with its glory.
In the choice of the Son to become our brother, the whole of humanity is saved; and all of us become children of God. Jesus, who makes Himself the last of all, is the new Adam. As He was thought to be the son of Joseph, He is in reality the Son of God precisely because of this choice of His.
In Him, who is in solidarity with us, all generations belong again to God. The genealogy Luke puts after the baptism is an ascending one: it goes from Jesus to Adam, from the first to the last human being, with 77 (i.e. infinite) generations.
The Son who came down to the underworld in order to meet the brethren goes up again to the Father together with them: in Him every son and daughter of man becomes son and daughter of God.
When we evangelize, we do not save anybody: we announce the salvation that has already taken place in Jesus, the Son who has made Himself the last of His brethren. Whoever excludes the other from His brotherhood is no child of God: he is excluding his Master, who is the last of all and is against the Father who loves all as His children.
In His mission of unconditionally loving His brothers and sisters, Jesus fulfills His vocation as the Son. Jesus’ baptism, therefore, introduces the vocation/mission of the Son and of every man and woman called to be His brother or sister.
Reflect and Share
• As single human beings and as a community, a Church and a society, is our basic choice the one of our baptism i.e. to be brothers and sisters of all, starting from those who are far away and excluded?
• Do I announce what I am living or does my life discredit what I am announcing?