One of the many reasons I remain a Benedictine Oblate is the promise we make each day to read, study and ponder the words of the Daily Office.
Known as the Breviary, there was a time that the Office was accessible only to priests. Somewhere around or after Vatican ll, that prohibition was lifted.
Only upon reflecting upon a sermon by a saint I have never heard of-Saint Maximus, Bishop of Turin, did I stop to consider why the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus ends the season of Christmas in the Christian liturgy. Maximus writes in the Second Reading of the Office for the Friday after Epiphany that the baptism should be called the feast of Jesus’ birthday. And our teacher declares that our “reason should demand” that the Baptism should follow so close to the incarnation even though 30 years separate the two events.
On Christmas, Jesus was born a man; on his Baptism, he is born sacramentally, in mystery: As an infant boy, he was held close to Mary’s heart; when He is born in mystery, he is held in His Father’s embrace:
This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.
Listen to Him.
Maximus provides the answer to the question of why the Son of God needed to go to the Jordan to be baptized, why this divine being required that John the Baptist submerge Him in the waters of the Jordan. Christ is baptized not to be made holy by the water but to make the water holy. When our Lord is washed, all waters for all baptism for all time are made holy.
He who led the Israelites in a column of fire through the Red Sea, through the Jordan, into Canaan does now, in the column of His Body, provide eternal light to all those who believe; all those who see Him as the Way.