For those not from the tri-state area, today in Southwestern Pennsylvania was Springtime. Even though it was January 12th, the temperature this afternoon as I left for Mass was 62 degrees and it was partly sunny. This is not usual for these parts at this time of the year, but we broke out the Spring jackets. I'm sure that we will pay for this reprieve, but we'll enjoy it while we can.
When Jesus entered into the waters of the Jordan to be baptized by his cousin, John, there was a keen awareness in both of them of the need for this baptism as well as the non necessity of this action. John's baptism was a call to repentance, and in Jesus there was no need of repentance. John even acknowledges that the roles should be reversed, that he should be baptized by Jesus. And yet both knew that this had to be done, as a sign, an indicator of the plan of the Father. This baptism of Jesus marked his entry into ministry, his embracing the task given him by the Father to bring about redemption and pave the way for salvation. His time of growing "in age and grace and wisdom" were complete, and now came the task of presenting the Good News, of bringing the Father's love, of calling all to life.
The events of that day - the baptism, a time of prayer, the sky opening with the Holy Spirit descending like a dove, and the words of affirmation "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased" were heard. This affirmation of Jesus was not for him, although it signified his willingness to "step out" in the Father's Name and it marked his entry into public ministry. This affirmation of him is for us, that we may be reassured that "he is the one".
And this affirmation is a model to us that at our baptism we too are filled with the Spirit, called to embrace ministry, to step out in faith, to begin our building of the Kingdom. As with Jesus, the Father proclaims that we are his beloved sons and daughters, his beloved children, and in us he is well pleased. This assurance, this affirmation, sends us forth. To the extent that we may not have moved yet, may not yet have begun, this feast of Jesus is a clear reminder to us of the work yet to be done.