Today’s celebration may raise a few questions in the minds of some people.
Why do we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus?  Perhaps because, for many, Baptism is reduced to one point only:  taking away original sin…  and Jesus didn’t have original sin!

However, Baptism is much more. It is, FIRSTLY, a welcome: creating a formal relationship between God and each person: we are born into the family of the Church.
SECONDLY, it’s a blessing of encouragement and affirmation: God’s favour rests on you!
Only THIRDLY is it about washing away the past, and receiving forgiveness.

Just as two people who love each other, and are bound through the Marriage Sacrament,
so, consenting to Baptism is our way of saying YES, we want to be in God’s family.

The sense of BELONGING is one of the five key emotional needs of every person.
Marriage papers encourage each couple to know they are bound together,
and have a PUBLIC right to receive, and a duty to give, support from/to each other.

So, too, the Baptism encourages each of us to know that God has accepted us and God has committed Himself to help us. Sadly, perhaps, we’re not always so strong on our duty to God!

Now, back to why Jesus needed Baptism: FOR his humanity he needed to belong, but,
FROM his divinity, he made holy the water that touched him,
and so made holy the waters of Baptism for others.

Perhaps an analogy is helpful: water is described as soft or hard, depending on the minerals in it.  Water can have temporary hardness by the presence of bicarbonate and calcium ions.
Water can also have permanent hardness by the presence of calcium & magnesium sulphates.

For temporary hardness, simply boiling the water will cause the minerals in the water to precipitate and separate out in the water (the white bits you see in the jug/kettle).
It’s then easy to clean and wipe away.

But permanent hardness requires more serious measures to make it soft again.
It requires special treatment: perhaps soda water or filtering it through special soil or carbon (permutit process).

The water that comes from the sky (a great analogy for Heaven), is soft and does not contain contaminates, unless because of our pollution in the air that it falls through (eg. acid rain).

Jesus came from Heaven and we discovered that God is like “soft water”.
The Baptism of Jesus is an invitation from God to allow ourselves to undergo a filtration process through Christ: to remove the permanent hardness in our lives (bad habits).

Our temporary hardness (venial sins) are usually removed by the “boiling” of our friends or parents.  The voice of our Father in Heaven, speaking words of blessing on Jesus is a sign that God wishes to bless each of us who acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God.

Secondly, through Baptism, Jesus was able to begin his ministry and He spoke many words of Blessing on others. That is our model:  through Baptism, we became sharers in God’s Ministry of blessing the world, by blessing others… especially those younger than ourselves.

Today’s Feast is especially important for mothers and fathers: your children need to be blessed, not just with actions of love, also words of affirmation, encouragement and praise: please reflect: how long since I told my child: “I’m proud of you?”  But, at the same time, it must be honest.  If a child is not behaving well, tough love – but gently applied – is necessary.

Without the encouragement of a father, it’s difficult for a man to be confident in his life.
Without the encouragement of a mother, it’s difficult for a woman to be confident in her life.

So today, we celebrate, not the washing away of Jesus’ sins,
but the blessing of the Father to the Son: a new relationship between God and us.

Pope Francis inspired many when he came to Kenya in 2015, and spoke to the youth… he told them this:

How do you come out of this very negative experience? There is one remedy, one remedy alone, to come out of these experiences. To do that which you did not receive. If you didn’t receive understanding, then be understanding with others. If you felt the pain of loneliness come close to those who are alone; *flesh is cured by flesh* and God became flesh in order to cure us, let’s do the same ourselves. 

By Gerard Conlan, OMI