All the people come to John to be baptized. In solidarity with them, Jesus, without knowing any sin, submits humbly and prayerfully to the “baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
On being baptized, the one mightier than the Baptist reveals himself as divine solidarity with fragile humanity. It is not that he has not always been God’s solidarity with human beings: he is “God-with-us” from his conception; only that now he is so manifested for everybody to see.
So that everyone may know, Jesus is confirmed Son of God, of course, beloved, with whom God is well pleased. The confirmation refers back to Ps 2, 7, “You are my son,” and to angel Gabriel’s “Son of the Most High.” But “beloved” and “with you I am well pleased” also point to the Lord’s chosen Servant, with whom he is pleased.
Indeed, the Son is manifested also as the Suffering Servant who, in solidarity with those racked with pain and suffering, justifies us by bearing all our iniquities. The Servant is gentle and firm: he does not break a bruised reed; nor does he give up “until he establishes justice on the earth.”
By being made manifest as the Suffering Servant, Jesus, “equally gentle and firm,” to quote St. Vincent de Paul, gives us a glimpse of his future. Affirms Heb 5, 8-9: “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for those who obey him.”
If we who are baptized in Christ really obey like him, we are assured of salvation. But since God does not save us “merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another,” but rather as a people (LG 9), our baptism means incorporation not only into Christ but also into his community.
It goes without saying that just as Jesus’ baptism, along with his confirmation, means communion and solidarity, so also our baptism, along with our confirmation, means the same. We who are baptized with the baptism of the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire, endowed with the power to be sons of God and brothers and sister to one another, prove ourselves through our solidarity, especially with those who are preferred by Jesus—the excluded, the forgotten, those deemed of little value in the worldly kingdom.
Lord Jesus, model of exemplary solidarity, give us St. Vincent’s conviction that it is not enough for us to love God, if our neighbors do not love him (SV.FR XII:262).
January 10, 2016
Baptism of the Lord (C)
Is 42, 1-4. 6-7; Acts 10, 34-38; Lk 3, 15-16. 21-22