Jesus’ Baptism
Sometimes, this question may arise in our mind: Was it needed for Jesus to be baptized since he had no original sin? The understanding of the difference between John’s baptism and the sacrament of baptism will answer this question. The baptism by John the Baptist was a baptism of repentance, and the sacrament of baptism removes original sin. Since Jesus had neither original sin nor actual sin, he did not need to undergo baptism. However, Jesus also had no need to be born, to suffer, or to die as a man. He did so out of love for humanity. John the Baptist appears to recognize the strangeness of Jesus asking to be baptized (Matt. 3:14) yet obeys Jesus' request.

The baptism of Jesus is the most important Epiphany in the gospels. In the early Church, the visit of the Magi, the baptism of the Lord and the miracle at Cana together constituted the meaning of Epiphany, for each of these three events reveals, manifests and unveils who Jesus is.
The baptism of Jesus began his public ministry and gave the first example that we are to follow. For if Jesus, who had no need of repentance or cleansing, humbled himself, then we all the more need to humble ourselves.

Jesus not only gave the example for us to follow, but many Fathers of the Church commented that in the baptism of Jesus the sacrament of baptism was born. It was a symbolic action that, though the grace of Christ, was changed into an ontological action. When we receive a sacrament, the grace flows to us from the sacrament, but in the baptism of Jesus the grace of Christ flowed into the sacrament.

In his book “Jesus of Nazareth,” Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI insightfully offers another facet of the baptism of the Lord. He sees Jesus’ baptism as an expression of His fundamental submission to the will of the Father and His complete identification with sinners. By submersion in the waters of the Jordan, Jesus is publicly seen as one in need of repentance and forgiveness himself, although He has no need of it in actuality. Jesus is already embracing the enormous weight of humanity’s sinfulness, just as He will do again in a definitive and final way on the cross. Executed as a criminal and a blasphemer, crucified outside the city gate as the one seemingly cut off from God, Jesus seals
His identification with sinners in His own blood.

Ultimately, the reason Jesus chose to be baptized in the Jordan by John was not for him but for us.
Fr. Binu Joseph

 HOMILY: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time.

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January 26, 2020.

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