REFLECTION: When we take our baptism seriously, we choose to follow Jesus

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

All of us are very familiar with our basic teaching about Jesus, that he is the son of God. In fact, I think we’re so used to thinking of Jesus as God that we often fail to understand fully that Jesus was in fact also fully human, one like us in every way except sin. And so when the first teachers of the good news began to try to explain who Jesus was, they were filled with a sense of mystery. When did Jesus know he was God?

Let us be mindful of the critical importance of water...When in fact was Jesus, or did he become, God? And the Scriptures don’t really tell us because there are three different possibilities recorded in the Scriptures. In St. Paul’s letter to Rome, he writes that Jesus became God at his resurrection. In the very first chapter, Paul says, “I was set apart for the good news regarding Jesus, who is born in the flesh and descended of David, and has now been made God as the son of God endowed with power.” Paul is talking about the Resurrection, that it was that moment that Jesus became fully God, fully human.

But then, if you go to John’s Gospel [and] what we heard on Christmas day: “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God. The word was God.” So John teaches that from all eternity, Jesus is God. But then [in] today’s Gospel from Mark, it becomes clear that as Jesus experiences his baptism and comes up out of the water and goes apart to pray, the Holy Spirit comes upon him in a very powerful way. And Jesus, at that moment, hears God saying, “You are my son, my chosen one. In you, I am well pleased.” So Mark is telling us that Jesus becomes God, or becomes aware that he is God, at that moment of baptism…

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