10 Jan THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
Dear OLPH Family and Friends,
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord. With Vespers of this evening we officially close out the Christmas Season and return to what we refer to as the Ordinary Time of the Year. As you know, this Feast was originally part of the Feast of the Epiphany. God was made manifest in the Man Jesus with the visit of the Magi, the changing of water into wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana and in Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan. These Feasts are still celebrated as one in the Byzantine churches but are separated in the Western Church.
Jesus’ baptism reinforces the message of the Christmas narratives. Jesus’ baptism tells us that God’s chosen way of being with us is not as an awesome ruler of the universe, but as one who chooses solidarity with us in all our weakness. Jesus’ baptism portrays Emmanuel as one of us.
Jesus freely chooses the confines of human existence in order to lead us into all that we were created to be. This is the scandal of Christianity; we are the one world religion that conceives of God as incarnate, sharing all our limitations in order to reveal limitless love.
Orthodox Christians and Oriental Catholics use this Gospel for the feast of the Epiphany. They interpret the mystery of Jesus’ decision to submit to John’s baptism as the first revelation of who Jesus is and thus, what God is like. This scene is also the first portrayal of God as Trinity. Here we encounter Jesus as Emmanuel, The Spirt who descends on Him and the voice of God affirming Him. The Trinity is manifested in the humble scene of Jesus submitting to John’s baptism.
Jesus accepted baptism in union with us. Our baptism is a call and invitation to union with God and all of God’s own. Jesus’ baptism was a sign of His communion with us. Our call is one of communion with God and one another. May we renew our baptismal promises daily so as to be really one with God and one another!
May our renewed entrance into Ordinary Time of the Church Year be truly extraordinary! Fr. Joe and I want to express our tremendous gratitude for your many signs of love and affection on the occasion of our priestly anniversaries. Both the liturgical and social aspects of the celebration will bring joy to us until the day we die. Many thanks too for your many thoughtful gifts and greetings for Christmas.
It will take us months to rid ourselves of the extra calories we enjoyed so much. May God bless and keep you always!
Fr. Ron Buchmiller