Bottom line: We open ourselves to the generous love of God made manifest in Jesus' first public act - his baptism.
Today we enter the "ordinary" Sundays with the Baptism of the Lord. Our second reading speaks about the "generous love of God." We see that generosity in Jesus acceptance of baptism. As Pope Benedict observes: "The act of descending into the waters of this Baptism implies a confession of guilt and a plea for forgiveness in order to make a new beginning."*
Those baptized by John confess their sins and seek to rid themselves of their burden of guilt. But, asks Pope Benedict, "What did Jesus do in this same situation?" Jesus obviously had no need of repentance. He contains "all righteousness." (Mt 3:15) In today's Gospel the Father says to Jesus, "You are my beloved son; with you I am well pleased."By accepting baptism Jesus shows the generous love of God. Again let me quote Pope Benedict,
"Looking at the events in light of the Cross and Resurrection, the Christian people realized what happened: Jesus loaded the burden of all mankind's guilt upon his shoulders, he bore it down into the depths of the Jordan...He is, as it were, the true Jonah who said to the crew of the ship, 'Take me and throw me into the sea.'" (Jon 1:12)
By our baptism into Christ we receive the generous love of God. Our baptism, however, even if it took place when were infants, is not meant to be only a passive reception. By taking our guilt and sins upon himself, Jesus is call us to live the generous love of God. I will say more about that next week, especially as we hear about nuptial meaning of Jesus ministry, made evident in his first miracle. For now it is enough to open ourselves to the generous love of God made manifest in Jesus' first public act - his baptism. Amen.
*From "Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration." You may have guessed that before coming to Peru, I loaded my Kindle with books by Pope Benedict. Besides his trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, I am particularly enjoying his "Introduction to Christianity." He speaks about "the striving for the true pattern of human love as against the false worship of sex and Eros, which was and still is responsible for just as great an enslavement of humanity as the misuse of power." More on that next week.
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