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The Baptism of Jesus

The Sundays in Ordinary Time begin each year with the Baptism of Jesus. So why did Jesus need to get himself baptised by John in the river Jordan as he began his public career? This is a problem only to those who think baptism is all about being cleansed from personal sin and that Jesus was in every sense sinless. OK, so that is a problem. Beyond that, it is largely a mystery. Fortunately, the gospel texts give us some strong clues about the significance of this event for the earliest Christians. Matthew’s gospel acknowledges the mysterious nature of the transaction in John’s response to Jesus’ approach to him, and then resolves this as a matter of “righteousness”. For many of us, that too is a personal matter, ethical and spiritual in nature. Could it have meant something else back then, something much more public, even political? Once again, an answer emerges if we trace the close links between Matthew’s text and Isaiah 40 (handily, our Lesson for the same day). Interested? You can hear my comments here… Then feel free to let me know what you think in the comments box!
Howard Pilgrim

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