Read Isaiah 55:1-11, Isaiah 12, Mark 1:7-11

“I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)

Yesterday, we celebrated the Epiphany of Jesus Christ, and today, we are officially bringing the whole Christmas Season to an End by celebrating the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus Christ. For us to properly understand what happens at Baptism, we return to the story of Noah. For many days, it rained heavily until the whole world was immersed in water. The old world died, and a new world was born from Noah’s family. This is why God made a covenant with Noah when the floods subsided.

Another way to understand what happens at Baptism is to recall the crossing of the Red Sea by the Israelites. By passing through water, they received a type of baptism in that they moved from captivity to freedom. As in the time of Noah, God entered into a covenant with them again, and the terms of this covenant were stated in the Ten Commandments.

In baptism, we die to our old life (of sin) and are reborn into a new life with Christ. This new life is symbolised by entering into a covenant with God whereby we agree to live according to God’s commandments and no longer according to our flesh's impulses (or desires). This explains our public profession of faith in God and rejection of the devil.

When we reflect on what happens at baptism, we realise that having received this sacrament, we have been claimed for God. As such, if we return to our sinful ways, we would be breaking our covenant with God. Jesus had no sin; he did not need to die in his “old life”, yet he came forward to receive baptism. When John protested, Jesus said: “Let it be so now; for thus we should fulfil all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15). This must be our attitude as children of God; we must desire to fulfil all righteousness. Do not be a mediocre Christian.

Baptism is the beginning, not the end, of the Christian life. As Mark puts it, just after His Baptism, “the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. (Mark 1:12). Jesus' Baptism was part of His preparation for public ministry. Our celebration today brings our Christmas celebration to an end. Jesus is no longer a baby but a fully grown man. From tomorrow, we enter the season of Ordinary Time. Like Jesus, our baptism should be a necessary launch pad for great things in God’s kingdom. We shouldn’t be content with possessing a baptismal certificate. We must put it to work.

The prophet Isaiah, in today’s first reading, says: “Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7). Let these words move us to examine our conscience. Am I still walking in the light as God’s child? Or have I abandoned my baptismal promises?
Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, bring us to new life so that we may live in a manner worthy of our calling as Christians. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (The Baptism of the Lord – Feast. Bible Study: Isaiah 55:1-11, Isaiah 12, Mark 1:7-11).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu