Engaging the Gospel – Baptism of the Lord

Baptism of the Lord (Year B): Gospel – Mark 1:7-11

Humility is the leitmotif of Sunday’s Gospel. St John the Baptist embraces his role as forerunner, humbly serving the One Who is to come. Jesus humbly lowers Himself — the Holy One, perfectly sinless, stoops to accompany the repentant sinners — to be baptized by John.

“Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of His self-emptying,” as the Catechism (1224) notes, for He “voluntarily submitted Himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to fulfill all righteousness.

The baptism of Jesus is on His part the acceptance and inauguration of His mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows Himself to be numbered among sinners; He is already the Lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world. Already He is anticipating the ‘baptism’ of his bloody death…submitting himself entirely to His Father’s will: out of love He consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins.

— paragraph 536.

While the baptism of John was a sign of repentance, it is fundamentally different from the sacrament of Baptism instituted by Jesus, as John himself points out (Mark 1:8).

Jesus has sanctified the waters for our Baptism, whereby the treasures of sanctifying grace are lavished upon us. It is through this sacrament that we are cleansed of sin, made “a new creature” in Christ, and brought into the intimate life of the Holy Trinity (1264-65).

Through Baptism, the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus….The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with Him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father’s beloved son in the Son and walk in newness of life.

— paragraph 537.

Question for reflection: In what ways do I try to practice the virtue of humility?

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