This weekend, in Luke’s Gospel, we hear: Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (3:21-22). Jesus certainly did not need to be baptized, but He submitted to John’s baptism as a sign for all of us that we need to die to ourselves in order to accomplish God’s will in our lives. Jesus, then, exhibits great humility in submitting to John’s baptism.
To be clear, John’s baptism was/is not the same as the baptism Jesus instituted as one of the Seven Sacraments. John’s baptism only served as a visible token of repentance - from the Greek word metanoia, literally a “change of mind”. It was a reminder to all who submitted to such a baptism that they must turn away from sin and instead toward God, in preparation for the coming of Jesus the Savior. Jesus did not need to be baptized because He was totally faithful to the will of His Father and free from sin. What He wanted was to show His solidarity with us in order to reconcile us to the Father. By commanding His disciples to baptize all nations (cf. Matthew 28:19), He established the means by which we can die to sin and begin to live a new life with God.
If live up to our baptismal calling, having been made, through Jesus, sons and daughters of God, we can accomplish with and though Jesus the great work Isaiah speaks of as well this weekend: to be lights for others, to bring clarity of vision to those suffering from the darkness of confusion and sin, and to lead to freedom those in the bondage of one vice or another.
The key to all of this, though, is that when we are faced with the supreme value - Jesus - we have that change of mind, that metanoia. Let us, as we continue forward into this new year of 2019, respond to the call of Jesus to turn away from sin, embrace the Good News of Jesus, dead and risen, and exhibit the transformative nature of this Good News in our own lives so that all may experience the renewal we have been privileged to experience (and continue to experience as we doggedly practice our faith) as we together share the Supreme Value - Jesus - in their midst.
David J. Conrad