domenica 7 gennaio 2018

«Lux vera veniens in mundum»

Yesterday we left Jesus as a little child in Bethlehem; today we find him again thirty years later at the Jordan. After so many years of “hidden life,” with his baptism by John, Jesus begins his public ministry. It is an event full of meanings. We will try to grasp some of them by repeating the intercessions we addressed to Christ himself this morning at Lauds.

1. You made your light shine on us by revealing yourself. First of all, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan is a kind of manifestation—an “epiphany”: Jesus reveals himself, that is to say, he lets us know who he really is—the Son of God. This revelation is for us like a light which illumines our life. Jesus is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). John, in the prologue of his gospel, says, “The true light (lux vera), which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world (veniens in mundum)” (Jn 1:9).

2. You humbled yourself and received baptism from your servant to show us the way of humility. Saint Paul, in the letter to the Philippians, describes the incarnation of the Son of God as a kind of abasement: “Though he was in the form of God … he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave … he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death” (Phil 2:6.7.8). He was God, and became a servant. And now he wants to be baptized by his servant. Jesus behaves this way to teach us humility. We, who are servants, would like to be lords; he, who is the Lord, becomes a servant. Jesus does not condemn our aspiration for greatness; he just shows us the way to reach that goal—humility: “The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Mt 23:11-12).

3. Through your baptism you cleansed us of every blemish and made us children of your Father. Whatever Jesus does during his earthly life, he does not do for himself but for us. As he is without sin, he does not need baptism; he wants to be baptized to cleanse us of our sins. When he enters the waters of the Jordan, he takes all our sins upon himself. In doing so, he makes us children of God. He, who is the Son of God, becomes like a sinner, so that we, who are sinners, may become children of God.

4. Through baptism you have consecrated creation and opened the door of repentance to all who prepare for baptism. Jesus’ baptism does not concern only the humankind, but all creation. Just as, when man fell with the original sin, the whole creation was affected, in the same way now salvation involves all creatures. Among these creatures, in a special way, water is consecrated by Jesus, so that it may become the means of salvation for men over the centuries. Baptism is the sacrament of salvation for all. The only requirements are faith and repentance. Jesus, by his baptism, opened the door of repentance for us. We have heard in the gospel that, when Jesus came out of the water, the heavens were opened—the heavens that Adam’s sin had closed.

5. Through your baptism you revealed to us the Holy Trinity when the Father called you his beloved Son and the Holy Spirit came down upon you. The Son of God became man, not only to save us, but also to let us know the mystery of God. At the end of the prologue of his gospel, John says, “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him” (Jn 1:18). Well, this revelation begins at the baptism, where the whole Trinity is present: the Father lets his voice be heard, proclaiming Jesus his Son; the Son is present in Jesus who comes out of the water; the Holy Spirit, as John says in the second reading, “is the one who testifies”: he descends upon Jesus like a dove. Jesus introduces to us his “family,” that will be also our family. Through baptism we become children of God, brethren of Jesus Christ and temples of the Holy Spirit.