Rebirth in the Holy Spirit

Synopsis of the Baptism of the Lord: John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As a result, a crowd of sinners – tax collectors, prostitutes, soldiers, and even a few Pharisees and Sadducees – came to be baptized by John. Then Jesus appeared and approached John for baptism. The Baptist hesitated, but Jesus insisted and was baptized. Then the Holy Spirit, in the appearance of a dove, came upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaimed: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” The Baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan was the manifestation or an Epiphany of Jesus as the Anointed One – the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God; it also marked the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.

At a deeper level, the Baptism of Jesus is, on His part, the acceptance of His mission as God’s suffering Servant. (cf. Isaiah 53) Jesus submitted Himself to the baptism of John, intended for sinners, in order to fulfill all righteousness. Jesus said to John, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” (Matthew 3:15) Here, “all righteousness” means “the will of God,” and therefore with those words, Jesus affirmed that He came to do the Father’s will. Jesus allowed Himself to be numbered among sinners, for He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29) Jesus insisted that John baptize Him not simply for the sake of showing humility, but because His baptism at the Jordan anticipated the baptism of His death on the Cross. Jesus mentioned the baptism of His death to His disciples when He said, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized; and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” (Luke 12:50) And again, when Jesus said to James and John, “Can you drink the cup that I drink or be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” (Mark 10:38)

The prophets of the Old Testament announced that the Spirit of the Lord would rest on the long-awaited Messiah. (cf. Isaiah 11:2, 61:1) The descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus at His Baptism was the sign from God that He was the One who was to come. Moreover, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus not only confirmed that Jesus was the Anointed One, but it also signified the beginning of a new creation – the rebirth of man through water and the Holy Spirit through the Sacrament of Baptism. A Christian is assimilated to Christ through the Sacrament of Baptism. In baptism, a person goes down into the water to signify the death of his former life of sin, and rises up from the water to signify his rebirth of water and the Holy Spirit, thereby becoming a new creation – the baptized person becomes a child of God.

Water has been referred to as one of the three great witnesses for Christ; the First Letter of John tells us: “There are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the blood, and the three are of one accord.” (1 John 5:7-8) Here, water is the symbol of the Baptism of Jesus. The baptism of repentance done by John was the seal of the Law; i.e., it was the outward sign by which those who repented at his preaching showed their determination to keep the Law. On the other hand, the Baptism of the Lord in water was His seal, or outward sign, that He had come not to destroy the Law and the prophets, but to fulfill them. (cf. Matthew 5:17)

Jesus fulfilled the Law and the prophets not only by teaching the spirit of the Law; e.g., the Law against killing applies also to anger (cf. Matthew 5:21-22); or the Law against adultery applies also to lustful thoughts (cf. Matthew 5:27-28); but that He, as man, has fulfilled the Law to perfection. And thus shall it be that all Christians should strive to fulfill the spirit of the Law in their lives.

Thus, after the Baptism of the Lord was completed, a voice from heaven was heard saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:11) The Father was pleased with His Son, for with all the things that the Baptism of the Son signified, the Son had begun with His public ministry to fulfill the will of Father.

Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer has granted permission for the Holy Name of Jesus Chinese Catholic Mission to celebrate the following special Masses on Sunday in 2021: (1) Holy Name of Jesus – Actual Date (1/3/21) to be celebrated on January 17, 2021 in lieu of 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. (2) Chinese New Year – Actual Date (2/12/21) to be celebrated on February 14, 2021 in lieu of 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time. (3) Our Lady of China – Actual Date (5/9/21) to be celebrated on May 9, 2021 in lieu of 6th Sunday of Easter. (4) Holy Martyrs of China – Actual Date (7/9/21) to be celebrated on July 4, 2021 in lieu of 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time.

On January 7, 2021, the “Angels Unawares” sculpture will be blessed by Archbishop Gregory Hartmayer at 1:30pm and will be put on display at Holy Spirit Preparatory School through February 3, 2021. All are invited to see the statue, which depicts 140 immigrants on a boat with the Holy Family.