At Baptism, what do we feel, and see, and hear?
Updated: Feb 27, 2020
BAPTISM OF THE LORD – YEAR A
3-6 year olds
This Sunday is the last of the three Sundays celebrating the feast of Christmas--the feast that celebrates God becoming human, becoming one of us. In the Gospel readings for the first two Sundays of Christmas, Jesus is a baby, but in today's Gospel, Jesus is a grown man. He comes to be baptized in the river Jordan.
Remember John the Baptist telling everyone to repent? Remember he tells people that the Kingdom of God has come near? Now Jesus comes along--the King himself!
John the Baptist didn't baptize in a church the way it is done today. He stood in the Jordan river and people waded out to him. They would be plunged under the water and then would stand up again, baptized!
When Jesus wades into the river, John the Baptist sees him coming and is concerned. Why should Jesus need to be baptized? He doesn't need to prepare for the coming of himself! But Jesus wants it this way. So John agrees to baptize Jesus in the river.
And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
What does Jesus feel when he is baptized? He feels the water running off his body. And then he feels something land on him.
What does Jesus see? He looks up and sees the heavens open. It must be so bright.
What else does Jesus see? He sees the Spirit of God coming down like a dove. A dove is a white bird.
Is the Holy Spirit a bird?? St. Matthew tells us the Spirit comes down like a dove. A dove is beautiful and does not hurt anybody. When people think of doves, they think of peace.
What does Jesus hear?
a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Whose voice is that? Of course! It is God the Father's voice.
What does a voice do? It speaks words. God's voice speaks the Word. God speaks Jesus into the world. Now everyone listening knows who he is.
The voice says that Jesus is the Beloved. That means God loves Jesus. God loves so strongly--so abundantly--that Jesus could actually see God's love! That beautiful, peaceful thing that comes down and lands on Jesus like a dove, could that be the love of God? Could the Spirit of God be love???
Jesus is baptized when he is a grown man. Most of us are baptized when we are babies. I cannot remember my baptism. I wish I could. Can you remember yours? Maybe today's Gospel can help us know something about our baptism.
What did we feel? We felt the water dripping off of our heads.
What did we hear? At my baptism, I heard, "Paula, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." What was the first word I heard? My name. What was the first word you heard at your baptism?
It was the priest who spoke those words at our baptism. But who is it that we know that calls by name?
He calls his own sheep by name (John 10:3b)
The Good Shepherd! Could it be that at our baptism--deep down inside of us--we heard the voice of the Good Shepherd calling our name? Did we hear the voice of God speaking us into the world?
What did we see? We saw a bright light because a candle was lit from the bright Pascal candle, the Easter candle. I wonder, did we also see the love of God coming down upon us like a dove? Perhaps only we could see it. For us alone.
And as we were held up so that all who had gathered could see us, I wonder if all the people could hear--deep inside their hearts--the voice of God saying, "This is my child, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased." I'd like to think that they did, so that everyone listening knows who we are.