‘In the life of Christ the baptism in the Jordan is an event of highest importance because it represents a significant phase in the work of redemption. In the course of the ecclesiastical year not only this episode but all the phases of Christ’s redemptive work are commemorated in the liturgy. In recent weeks we have celebrated quite a number of important events pertaining to our redemption, viz., the annunciation (Missa aurea of Advent), the nativity, the circumcision, Christ’s coming-of-age. The baptism at the Jordan marks the beginning of our Lord’s public life. Indeed, it seems as if His baptism effected His anointing as the Messiah by the Holy Spirit. Whatever its ultimate significance, the Greek Fathers in particular regarded the event as tremendously importance.
In the symbolism of His baptism, Christ displayed beforehand His redemptive death and resurrection. Himself immaculate, He assumes the sins of the world, descends into the purifying waters, and raises mankind to divine sonship. Note that Christ’s baptism was vicarious in nature. There He stands in the Jordan in our stead. Consequently, the act must find its true expression in our subjective or personal redemption. Three such occasions would be baptism, holy Mass, and death.
At my baptism I was immersed with Christ, and with Him I died and was buried. Then I emerged, and for the first time heaven opened to me as the Holy Spirit made His entrance into my soul; and my Father in heaven glanced down upon me, now “His son, His child.”
In each holy Mass Christ’s baptism is again operative. Through the holy Sacrifice I am immersed in His sacrificial death; heaven then opens and the Holy Spirit descends in holy Communion, while through the pledge of the sacrificial Banquet the Father assures me of renewed and enriched sonship in Himself.
The baptism of Christ takes place within me a third time at death, for death is indeed a sort of baptism. Death is like immersion into the dark depths, and when I emerge, it is into heaven above. Then I will see the Blessed Trinity, no longer through the darkened sun-glass of faith, but in immediate vision, face to face.
To sum up, today’s liturgy helps me to understand more clearly the basic structure of spiritual life. Christ’s death is the foundation. Upon this foundation the edifice rises through baptism and the Eucharist; while the Lord’s return at death spells completion to the work’.
from The Church’s Year of Grace, 1959, by Pius Parsch 1884-1954
Heavenly Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ did take our nature upon him, and was baptised for our sakes in the river Jordan: mercifully grant that we, being regenerate and made thy children by adoption and grace, may also be partakers of thy Holy Spirit; through the same Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen. - Collect for the Baptism of the Lord, Divine Worship: The Missal.
Fr Lee Kenyon