Mt. 3: 13-17 ( http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011220.cfm )
This Sunday marks the crossover from Christmastide to Ordinary Time. We do this by recalling something extraordinary that continues to remind us of what Christmas and the incarnation is all about.
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord raises all kinds of interesting questions about the curious moment when Jesus comes to John for baptism. In Matthew, our Gospel for the coming year, the baptism is presented as another moment of revelation. In the scene, Jesus is depicted as “seeing” the Spirit coming down on him while the crowd is told “this is my beloved Son” (Contrast this with Mark where the voice speaks to Jesus!). What does it mean for Matthew?
It might be helpful to see here a launching pad for Jesus’ ministry. Up to this point he has been shown to Israel and the world as Emmanuel – God with us – and now he embraces his mission, which is the mission of the Father, a mission undertaken in the power of the Spirit to show what the presence of God in the world looks like.
If we want to know what that looks like, today’s first reading from Isaiah gives us a beautiful summary of both what the mission of Jesus is and how we are called to share in it. In the tradition, our focus on baptism as functioning to remove the stain of original sin has led to an underappreciation of baptism as the beginning of our call to share in the mission of Christ. The very evocative words of Isaiah speak beautifully of Christ, but we must remember they also describe in a most inspiring and challenging way the vocation of all the baptised. God delights in each of us and endows us with the Spirit that we may participate in bringing true justice to the nations.