Reflection: Baptism of the Lord

Chinese Mass:Every Sunday 2:15 p.m.

Our Lady of the Assumption RC Church, Assumption Priory, Victoria Park Square, Bethnal Green E2 9PB (map)

After Mass you are welcome to join the community for a tea gathering

Bible study/sharing every Saturday (2:00-4:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church, 5 Leicester Place WC2H 7BX (near See Woo Chinese Supermarket, Leicester Square tube station)

Talk and discussion meeting First Tuesday of every month (4:00-6:00 p.m.) at Notre Dame De France Church


[1st Reading – Is.40:1-5, 9-11; Ps.103; 2nd Reading – Tt.2:11-14, 3:4-7; Gospel – Lk.3:15-16,21-22]


At the end of the Christmas season, as at the beginning of Advent, the Church is, once again, presenting John the Baptist to introduce us to Jesus. We are no longer in the infancy narrative, as we were during the Christmas season up till now, but, for the first time in St. Luke’s gospel, we encounter the adult Jesus, ready to start his public life. This Jesus who became flesh and participated in our fragile human nature, went to John to receive baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Needless to say, these were not his own sins, as was the case of all the others who were receiving their baptism by John. In Jesus’ case, the baptism in the Jordan was for the forgiveness of all the sins of the world. That is why John introduces Jesus as the one who was to come, who was more powerful than himself, because the one coming had to take upon himself the sins of everyone.

Furthermore, unlike John who baptised with water, Jesus, would baptise with the Holy Spirit and fire. We encountered the Holy Spirit at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life (The Annunciation) and also at the end (Pentecost)… This Holy Spirit, who is the giver of life, is also the one who will keep the “fire” with which Jesus will baptise, burning! It is this same Holy Spirit who, in today’s Gospel, descended from Heaven, on Jesus, in bodily shape like a dove. Similar to the star during the Epiphany, the Holy Spirit at Jesus’ Baptism, was the sign of the Emmanuel, God’s presence amongst us. Here, the Holy Spirit is accompanied by “a voice from heaven”.

This voice echoes one of the psalms of the Old Testament. It gave evidence to what has been said about the Messiah and which was being fulfilled in Jesus. It is noteworthy to say that the Holy Spirit and the Voice coming from heaven, have a common denominator – they are both from HEAVEN. The voice must also be the same voice that at the beginning of time “said” and “commanded” that there be light…, the earth…, and everything… It is the same voice through which the “Word was made Flesh” and came to dwell amongst us… If this is so, therefore, the same Word made Flesh, Jesus, who is also the Son, has to have the same source as the Holy Spirit and the Voice – Heaven.

Although what has been said is interesting in itself, our particular attention must be focused on Jesus. We are told that after he received the Baptism of John, He “was at prayer”. It was at this moment that the heavens opened and the whole scene takes place. Being at prayer means that He was communicating with the Father, and by doing so, there was the opportunity to the Holy Spirit to be active in Jesus’ life.

The same Holy Spirit wants to work in our life as well. Let us be open to His presence by uniting ourselves in prayer to the Father as Jesus did.

Lord, we want to have the Holy Spirit in our Life, but we do not know how to pray. Give us the humility at least to be silent and in such a way ready to hear your voice! Thank You Lord!


Fr. Jesmond Pawley, OFM Conv.

(Permission to reproduce on this site by Fr. Jesmond, St. Patrick’s RC Church, Waterloo )

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