The Gospel yesterday, the last Sunday of Christmas and the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, set before us John’s call to recognise the more of the Lord’s Baptism: the more that Jesus experiences at his own baptism and the more we receive when baptised by the Lord.
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’
John’s Baptism was a Baptism of Repentance. The Lord baptises, as he does when any priest or other minister baptises, with the Holy Spirit and fire. The Lord’s is a baptism that draws us into a new life, a new creation.
In the sacramental baptism we become a member of Jesus Christ, indeed other Christ’s. We become this, and we are still becoming this. – or at least that is the hope.
In Christ we are in a particular God God’s beloved children, and his favour rests on us.
But where do we conform to Christ? And where do we fall short?
- What healing and help have we already received and benefited from and for which we can give thanks?
- And what more healing and help do we know we need? What more might others say too?
Christ baptised. Detail of reredos of Lady Chapel in Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.