Whenever Christmas falls on a Sunday, as it did this year, we have the longest Advent season and the shortest Christmas season. In quick succession the Church celebrated the Nativity of the Lord, Mary the Mother of God, and our Lord’s Epiphany. The Christmas season ended then with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord on this past Monday, January 9. It would appear to be a rather big jump from His Epiphany to His Baptism – some thirty years separates the two events. The Church places these feasts together to show that the Lord’s public ministry is manifested by His Baptism, as His divinity was made manifest to the gentiles by the Epiphany. As the Baptism of the Lord inaugurated His public witness as the Messiah, so Baptism for a Christian begins a life seeking holiness – of emulating the Lord. This Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is also the First of the Luminous Mysteries (or Mysteries of Light) which Pope John Paul II introduced in October of 2002. Whereas the other Mysteries of the Rosary (Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious) focus on events early in the Lord’s life, or at the very end, the Luminous Mysteries present for our meditation the very events of our Lord’s ministry.
Having entered now the season of “Ordinary Time” today’s Gospel recounts the events following our Lord’s baptism by John. John the Baptist testifies that “I saw the Spirit come down like a dove from heaven and remain upon him.” And consequently, having received this revelation from the Father, St. John acclaims: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” Do you recognize these words? The Church has appropriated these words of Sacred Scripture (and many more!) within the Sacred Liturgy. And we rightly respond: “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller