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Baptism of Jesus_Verrocchio_Leonardo_da_Vinci

The Baptism of the Christ
Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1475

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Mark 1:9-11

Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. Jesus humbled himself to receive John’s baptism of repentance not to purify himself but to purify you and me. Because of Jesus’ baptism, you can be confident that God has “grasped you by the hand” (Isa 42:6 – 1st reading at today’s Mass), saving you from the oppression of Satan, sin, and death. Through this act, we too are made beloved sons and daughters of the heavenly King, pleasing to Him.

In our restoration work with couples who are struggling in their marriages, we see many individuals with father wounds. These wounds effect their understanding of God the Father’s incredible love for them. It is through our earthly father’s love, mercy, and forgiveness that we come to know who God the Father is. If we have not received these from our earthly father, our view of God is distorted. If our father was harsh, critical, or overbearing, this will be our image of God the Father.

St. John Paul II, on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in 2002, had the joy of baptizing newborns during Mass. In his homily, he addressed the importance of parents and godparents in imaging God the Father to children.

But will they be able to be open to faith if they do not receive a supportive witness to it from the adults who surround them? These children need you first of all, dear parents; then they also need you, dear godparents, in order to learn to know the true God who is merciful love. It is up to you to introduce them to this knowledge, first and foremost, through the witness of your behaviour in the relationships you have with them and with others, relationships marked by attention, acceptance and forgiveness. They will understand that God is fidelity if they can first recognize his reflection, even if it is limited and faint, in your loving presence.

Great is the responsibility of parents to cooperate in the spiritual growth of their children! The blessed couple, Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, were well aware of this. I recently had the joy of raising them to the honour of the altars, and I ask you to get to know them and imitate them. If you find great the mission of being parents “according to the flesh”, how much greater is that of collaborating in the divine fatherhood, offering your own contribution to shaping in these creatures the image of Jesus, the perfect Man.[1]

To better know God the Father, we need to look at the life of God the Son in Sacred Scripture. The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming Messiah, “a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness” (Isa 42:6-7). When we look upon the tender baby Jesus in the manager, do we see a mighty warrior who has come to rescue us from the clutches of Satan, sin, and death? This is why God became man. He came on a rescue mission much like the allied forces on D-Day, the 6th of June 1944, that liberated France and western Europe from the grasp of Nazi Germany. God became man to save us and to show us the extent of His love and mercy for us.

As fathers and mothers, husbands and wives, our task is to show the love of God to our family. Through our example, they will come to have an understanding of the love of God the Father. This is our mission. The future of our society and the world depends upon the extent that they know God. He is our only hope.

The Lord will rescue us from every evil threat and will bring us safe to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen. Cf. 2 Timothy 4:18.

[1] John Paul II, Homily of John Paul II, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday, 13 January 2002, §3; internet: http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/homilies/2002/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_20020113_baptisms.html (accessed January 9, 2021).