The Baptism of Jesus

An excerpt from The Liturgical Year by Joan Chittister, OSB

On the Sunday after Epiphany, the Christmas season ends in the West with its own celebration of the baptism of Jesus by John at the Jordan. As the Eastern church points out, it is at this moment that we see for the first time the union of God the Creator, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But we see something else as well. We see Jesus accepting baptism by John, a sign that Jesus accepts humanity, his own and ours, in all its struggles, all of its limitations, all of its burdens, and all its focus on the ultimate, on the divine.

The feast days of Christmastide make the full meaning of Christmas clear. There can be no doubt about it: this Child is human, yes, but He is of heavenly as well as earthly origin. In this Child’s light we all walk safely through the unknown. We are all here with the Magi, full of gifts to give in his behalf. What’s more, with the opening of the heavens on the bank of the Jordan, we all have our first vision of life beyond life.

Christmas is larger than a baby in a manger. Christmas is the coming of a whole new world. More than that, it is what makes that world possible.