Celebrating the baptism of the Lord and remembering our baptism, we read the book of Mark 1:4-11 and we read Genesis 1:1-5, the story of Creation, as well because Creation and baptism cannot be separated. Every time we return to the baptismal waters, we return to the first day because we are to be reborn through our baptism. Actually we find a similar frame by comparing in what Genesis says and how St. Mark describes Jesus’ baptism: In the beginning a wind (or breath, or spirit) of God swept over the face of the waters. At Jesus’ baptism the spirit (or breath or wind) of God descended on Jesus as he is coming up out of the water. In the beginning God said, “Let there be light.” At Jesus’ baptism God said, “You are my Son, the Beloved.” In the beginning “God saw that the light was good.” At Jesus’ baptism God was “well pleased.”
Creation and Jesus baptism both are God’s gifts to humanity. Every time we return to the baptismal waters we claim our identity in Jesus as beloved children. Every time we return to the baptism waters God again manifests and reveals himself in humanity.
In our Gospel passage today, we are once again taken to those waters. As you see the text, John the Baptist sees Jesus to baptize him. I thought how uncomfortable John must have felt. Who could imagine being part of this holy act, baptizing the Messiah? But whether we think it’s proper or not, John obeyed as Jesus did, which could be a message for us, saying ‘do not worry what the world thinks, what society expects you to do’. There is work to be done by God and that was why Jesus obeyed. He obeyed for God’s work to be done. Jesus had to come for cleansing even though he doesn’t need cleansing. He needed to submit his own life and empty himself for God to work. He needed the new Spirit that would emerge from the waters.