Called and Formed for Mission
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as 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.
Why are you baptized? What does it do? Why is it important? And why did Jesus, the Divine Son of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, why was it he was baptized? It is perfectly understandable to see that Saint John the Baptist might have had more than a few questions about his baptizing Jesus.
The section you might hear from Isaiah (you could also hear the reading from the Acts of the Apostles) is one of the Servant Songs, usually seen as a foreshadowing of Christ and applied to his ministry and person in the New Testament. The celebration of the baptism of Jesus today becomes important insofar as it is something that is the ideal that we are called to imitate.
Normally, when we think of our baptism, we think of it as making one a member of the Church, forgiving sins and making the recipient a beloved son or daughter of God. In other words, we are made holy by our baptism. But the point of today’s gospel is to turn things upside down.
When Jesus is baptized, he is the one who makes the waters holy. Everything touched by Jesus becomes holy. And to be holy is to live just like Jesus. Once we are touched by Jesus in baptism, we are then called in our lives to live like Jesus. We are called to allow ourselves to be formed. We are to allow Jesus to open our blind eyes, to remove us from our prisons, and to move out of the darkness and into the light.
Jesus always makes clean. This is the pattern for Jesus throughout the gospels. While contact with something unclean made a clean person unclean, it is Jesus who makes the unclean clean.
And so, when we are baptized, it is not just that we are washed clean, but we are called as citizens of the kingdom of God, which means we must become more like Christ. Because we are called and sent on a mission, we must allow ourselves to be formed into the image and likeness of God even more.
You are a beloved son or daughter of God through your baptism. Allow Jesus to form you. Allow Jesus to shape you. It may be painful at times, difficult and challenging. But when we allow God to form every aspect of our being, God says to us, “You are my beloved.”
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