This Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. In the Eastern Church this Feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan God appeared in three persons.”[1] The Father spoke the words… “This is my Beloved Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him;”[2] and the Spirit appears as a dove.[3] Jesus’ Baptism is one of  three manifestations of the Messiah.[4]

You may ask, as did St. John the Baptist, why Jesus the sinless one, needed to be baptised?John’s baptism of Jesus was an embarrassment to the early church and this is how Matthew explains how the sinless one could have received a baptism of repentance. Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.”[5]

When Jesus comes out of the Jordan, he comes out as Israel’s royal Messiah-King anointed by the Holy Spirit. Now as the truly ‘Anointed One’, Jesus is ready to begin his messianic mission of building the kingdom.[6]

Jesus “submits to the rite to identify with sinners and aligns himself with God’s plan. Jesus performs Old Covenant regulations to fulfill and perfect them in the New. St Thomas Aquinas points out that Jesus’ baptism prefigures the Christian sacrament. The water, Spirit and divine voice signify the effects of baptism whereby the soul is cleansed, the grace of the Holy Spirit is imparted and the recipient is adopted as a beloved child of God.[7]

This is truly a great day. So let us, as St. Gregory of Nazianzus teaches us, “do honour to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist.[8]

Ponder on that!

Sr. Rosaleen Shaw OP


[2] Mt.3:17

[3] Mt.3:16

[4] The other two being the Birth of Christ and the miracle at the Wedding of Cana

[5] Mt.3:15

[6] Gospel of St. Matthew, Edward Siri, p.38


[8] From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop; Second Reading, Office of Readings for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Liturgy of the Hours.