“You are My Son, My Beloved”
At the baptism of Jesus, God revealed to the expectant people of Israel, His own Son, their Messiah who would bring salvation to them. This revelation from God is an invitation to believe in His Son, so that whoever believes in Him may not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).
To appreciate the scene of the baptism, we need to understand a few imageries used by the evangelists.
The first important imagery is the opening of the heavens. According to traditional cosmology, God’s dwelling was high in the sky right above the earth. Through an opening in the heavens, the Holy writers portray that God came to talk to His people in and through Jesus.
Connected to this description is the Old Testament imagery of actually hearing a voice from the aperture. For Hebrews, God always spoke through the prophets. But there were no prophets who had come to them for more than 300 years. Now, according to Mark, with the voice from the heavens, God broke that silence. God’s voice would reach every ear on the earth through Jesus — the Word.
The dove is another powerful image in today’s Gospel vignette. For the Israelites, a dove is a symbol of peace (remember the dove in the great flood at the time of Noah). By interconnecting Isaiah’s prophesy of an abundant downpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit with the message of peace, the writers of the Gospels show that Jesus is the mediator between God and humanity, heaven and earth, and that He will bring peace to all people.
Through our individual baptism in the church, we participate in the very baptism of Christ — we become sons and daughters of God as well as mediators and messengers of God’s peace and salvation.
-Fr. Ranjan D’Sa OCD