January 29, 2023

The feast of the Baptism of the Lord in the Liturgical calendar officially ended the Christmas season. We remove our Christmas decors and we stop singing Christmas songs. We enter the ordinary season.
What is the difference between the baptism of Jesus and John, and Jesus and our baptism? The gospel of Mark 1:7-11 will clearly explain it for us.
John the Baptist proclaimed: “One mightier than I is coming after me. I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Holy Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And the voice of God came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
The baptism of Jesus is not about cleansing or purification of sins because Jesus is sinless but it is the declaration of his being the Son of God.
John the Baptist humbly and honestly announced his baptism and the baptism of Jesus, which is a declaration of his Divine sonship, his anointing by the Holy Spirit, and his consecrating the water to generate its efficacy for those who will be baptized today and the coming generation.
We saw the significance of the baptism of Jesus. He instituted baptism to become the sacrament of our adoption. Through baptism we become the adopted children of the Father. Hence, it is through baptism that we can utter with full confidence “Our Father” to his Father. “Our Father” is another declaration that truly because of baptism that we become children of God and his family.
Our baptism must also narrate our birth into the faith, which will make our direction very clear. We see the letter of St. John 5:4-5: “For whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.”
We look on the gospel of John 3:3-5: Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Beautifully, the water used during our baptism symbolizes the washing of the person from original sin. It is only through baptism that the inherited sin is removed. Hence, even the babies are baptized. They don’t have personal sins but they have the original sin. Hence, in baptism, we are given the best inheritance that of new life in Jesus. The inherited sin is removed and replaced by the grace of God. This explains the need for children to be baptized. That is why Jesus in Mark 10:14 reprimanded his apostles for driving the children away from him: “Let the children come to me and do not hinder them.”
It is therefore the right of a child to become the child of God through baptism, to be washed clean from original sin, and to be born into the faith and be incorporated to the church. Who is man to deny or deprive a child regardless of the situation of his parents? Sometimes, church leaders and policies become the obstacle for children to become children of God.
Happy Feast of Santo Niño.
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