At first glance it may seem strange that we begin the Christmas season by celebrating the nativity and we end it today by jumping ahead some three decades to celebrate the Baptism of Jesus.
It all seem odd until we realize that it is precisely though baptism that the bringing together of humanity and divinity that we celebrate at Christmas is made ours. In his homily for today St. Gregory of Nanzianzus writes, "Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him." The universe is changed.
Ritual bathing was an historical part of the Jewish faith. What Jesus did when he entered the waters of baptism was to transform them. No longer was it simply a matter of cleansing the sinful human being. In the waters of baptism we are, as John says, baptized the Holy Spirit, and reborn as true adopted sons and daughters of God. We become something new that had never before existed. In his homily for today St. Gregory of Nanzianzus writes, "Jesus rises from the waters; the world rises with him." The universe is changed. Plant, animals, and humans are all considered to have life, but which of us would say that they are the same kind of life. With his baptism, just introduces into world another kind of life.
We begin Christmas celebrating a birth; we end it celebrating a rebirth, our rebirth in Baptism. Tomorrow is Monday of the First Week in Ordinary Time. But what should the ordinary life of one who lives in Christ look like ?