Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Baptism of the Lord

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Mark 1:7-11

"This is my Son, the Beloved"

With this feast of the Baptism of the Lord, the liturgical season of Christmas comes to an end. The focus is now very much on the adult Jesus rather than the child; it points to the purpose for which this child was born. The baptism was a watershed in the life of Jesus, the moment when he passed from the relative obscurity of village life in Nazareth onto the public stage of his mission to Israel. At this significant moment of transition, he experienced the powerful presence of the Spirit and an assurance of favour from his Father. In the strength of this experience, he began his mission of proclaiming God's kingdom.

In accepting to be baptised by John in the Jordan Jesus, though sinless, identifies with us sinners, and with all our sins and failures. At the same time God reveals his true his identity as "My Son, the Beloved", the one on whom "my favour rests". He is thus marked out as that servant of God spoken of in the first reading - "my chosen one in whom my soul delights", "endowed with my spirit". This is the Suffering Servant of God, foretold by Isaiah, who would take upon himself the sins and sorrows of us all. In thus standing in solidarity with us Jesus takes on himself the consequences of our sins and so begins the road that leads eventually to Calvary and to risen glory.

The Baptism of the Lord brings to a close the Christmas season and recalls the opening of Jesus' public mission and ministry. And so it ushers the Church into 'Ordinary Time' and its weekly proclamation of the life and teaching of the Lord, with its invitation to walk with him through the year that lies ahead.