At Christmas Jesus was born a man; at His Baptism He was reborn sacramentally. Then He was born of the Virgin; at Baptism He was born in mystery. When He was born a man, His mother Mary held Him close to her heart; when He was born in mystery, God the Father embraces Him with His voice when He says: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: listen to Him. The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap; the Father serves His Son by His loving testimony. The mother holds the child for Magi to adore; the Father reveals that His Son is to be worshipped by all the nations.
Christ was baptized not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by His cleansing to purify the waters which He touched. For when the Savior is washed, all water for our baptism is made clean, purified at its source for the dispensing of baptismal grace to the people of future ages. Christ is the first to be baptized, then, so that Christians will follow after Him with confidence.
The mystery is this. The column of fire went before the sons of Israel through the Red Sea so they could follow on their journey; the column went first through the waters to prepare a path for those who followed. As the apostle Paul said, what was accomplished then was the mystery of baptism. Clearly it was baptism in a certain sense when the cloud was covering the people and bringing them through the water.
But Christ the Lord does all these things; in the column of fire He went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now, in the column of His body, He goes though baptism before the Christian people. At the time of the Exodus the column provided light for the people who followed; now it gives light to the hearts of believers. Then it made a firm pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism.
The path is clear. In our Baptism, sins are cleansed and we became adoptive Children of God. Do we live as God’s child? Our Father God made it clear, “Listen to Him.” Do we listen, or like the Israelites do we follow complaining, or worse go our own way ignoring His light, His path.
With great thanks to Saint Maximus of Turin, bishop. kvs