Bishop Thomas Gumbletonby Bishop Thomas Gumbleton
Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace

This feast of the baptism of our Lord brings to a conclusion the Christmas season that we’ve been celebrating, and the readings that we have today, I think if we listen carefully, we will find kind of a recapitulation, a summary of all that this marvelous, almost unbelievable feast means for all of us. First of all, we’re reminded again of the extraordinary truth that God, the God who is transcended above and beyond all of creation, this God who is the source of all being, has become one like us, fully human, in every way except sin.

In fact, you might ask yourselves, “Why would Jesus be baptized?” After all, John was preaching a baptism of repentance, a baptism for the forgiveness of sin. In fact, if you look in Matthew’s Gospel at the account of the baptism, John himself seems confused. Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him, but John tried to prevent him. He said, “How is it that you come to me? I should be baptized by you.”

Jesus tells John, “Let it be like that for now so that we may fulfill the right order.” He doesn’t fully answer John, but he gives a hint because Jesus, though he is Son of God, wants to follow what he calls the right order. He wants to be fully identified with us, with humans, with those who are sinners, those who are marginalized, oppressed, pushed aside. In that crowd that came to follow John and be baptized, there were people of every class, every order, every nationality…

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