“The Church does not dispense the sacrament of baptism in order to acquire for herself an increase in membership but in order to consecrate a human being to God and to communicate to that person the divine gift of birth from God.” ― Hans Urs von Balthasar, Unless You Become Like This Child
Gospel Text: (MT 3:13-17)
Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan
to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying,
"I need to be baptized by you,
and yet you are coming to me?"
Jesus said to him in reply,
"Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us
to fulfill all righteousness."
Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized,
he came up from the water and behold,
the heavens were opened for him,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove
and coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying,
"This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."
Why would God choose to get baptized? He certainly didn’t need what it is that baptism gives to a person. When you were baptized, two changes happened to you. First of all, the Original sin that you inherited from Adam and Eve was washed away. But this cleaning out of your soul was only so that God could put back in your soul what he intended to have dwell inside every person. In other words, this second change is more important than the first. This second change is God’s giving you the grace—the spiritual strength—to follow Jesus through this world.
As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today, what we are celebrating is a path that Jesus is making clear to us. This path is a path to freedom in our lives. Jesus certainly had no need to be baptized since He never committed any sin, and was never marked by Original Sin. But then again, Jesus never had to die on the Cross, either. Jesus did nothing in His life on this earth because He had to. He did everything freely. He did not hang upon the Cross because He was guilty of anything. He allowed Himself to be hanged on the Cross in order to take away the sins of the world, including your sins and mine.