Today, we celebrate the baptism of Jesus Christ by John the Baptist. This feast is well-known, and in many ways is taken for granted in the liturgical calendar. We all know the story: John the Baptist was at the Jordan, baptizing those who came to him. Christ, knowing this, went to him to be baptized in turn; the Holy Spirit descended and revealed Christ’s identity as the Son of God.
But when one delves a little deeper, a question arises: why did Christ insist on being baptized? As we know, baptism is a sacrament that washes us clean from Original Sin, allowing God’s grace to come upon us. Christ, however, was free from sin. He was God. So, why did he need to be baptized?
The fact is, the Baptism of Our Lord was more than just the simple act of John pouring water over him. It was an anointing, and God’s proclamation in conjunction with the descent of the Holy Spirit. This was an important moment, as that anointing is a key part of the Sacrament of Baptism.
More than that, it was an example. Throughout his time on earth among us, Christ repeatedly demonstrated how God wants us to live. It is through him that we have the Sacraments, and Baptism is the first of these. Later, of course, Christ would provide us yet another example, leading us closer to God through the Eucharist at the Last Supper.
The question of Christ’s baptism has resonated throughout the centuries, and many of the greatest theologians in the history of the Church have written about it, from Saint Justin the Martyr, to Saint Irenaeus and Saint Hippolytus, and even into the modern day. Find out what Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had to say about the life of Jesus Christ, and his baptism in particular in Jesus of Nazareth!
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