“He came up from the water and behold, the Heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him.
And a voice came from the Heavens, saying ‘This is My beloved Son, with Whom I am well pleased’.”
“Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to ‘fulfill all righteousness’. Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of his self-emptying..”
Catechism of the Catholic Church, para.1224
For Christ, the Baptism in the River Jordan signals the beginning of His public ministry; the private life of Nazareth is behind Him, for He must now fulfil His mission, having been sent by the Father. It is the same for us; our Baptism, too, sets us out on the path of mission for we also have a duty to fulfil.
This mission entrusted to each of us must be important, for it is given to each individual person alone and the mission of one is different to the mission of another; but every soul is entrusted with a mission. One day, we will all be called to account for how well – or otherwise – we have responded to our mission during this life.
In the Divine Mercy devotion given to Saint Faustina, the Lord tells our Saint that of the two Rays which emanate from His Heart, “the pale ray stands for the water which makes souls righteous” – in other words, the water of Baptism. And so our Baptism is itelf a grace of His mercy, in which we are born into His life. The Catechism tells us –
“Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission” (para.1213)
The Catechism speaks of Christ’s “self-emptying” in His Baptism – this is never more so than on the Cross, when His Heart is opened by the lance and the Blood and Water pour forth. This is what the Divine Mercy Image signifies. Similarly, our own Baotism must be the start of our personal ‘self-emptying’ so that as we lessen, He increases.
As we contemplate this holy Feast in our prayers today, let us ask the Merciful Lord for the grace to be faithful to what is given to us in Baptism, and to what it asks of us in every moment of our life.