||The Christmas season comes to its close when we celebratethe
Baptism of the Lord, an event recorded in all four Gospels. To begin his
public ministry, Jesus presented himself to be baptized by John the Baptist,
and God manifested Jesus as the divine Son.
Because we associate baptism with the forgiveness of sins, the idea
that the sinless Jesus would undergo baptism seems out of place. The evangelists
must have thought the same; as a whole, they downplay the incident. But
the baptism of Jesus had nothing to do with forgiveness; it had everything
to do with manifestation. It was a new beginning because it publicly revealed
Jesus’ identity, and that testimony came not from just any witness but
Three incidents in the Bible are traditionally called the “epiphany”events
or the “manifestations” of Jesus, newly arrived on the biblical scene:
the visit of the magi, the baptism, and the miracle at the wedding in Cana.
Prior to 1969 we heard all three of these Scriptures in successive weeks:
Jan. 6, Jan. 13, and on the following Sunday. All three storiesform a unit
because they progressively reveal the identity, the authority and the power
In today’s calendar the Sunday readings spread over a three-year cycle.
On the Baptism of the Lord we hear a different evangelist’s account each
year. Only in year C does the following Sunday feature the Gospel of the
wedding at Cana to unify the three celebrations.
In the United States we celebrate Epiphany on a Sunday. But in countries
where the Epiphany is a holy day of obligation, it is celebrated on Jan.6.
In the United States, the Baptism of the Lord is usually the Sunday after
the Epiphany, but if Epiphany comes late, falling on Jan. 6 or 7, the Baptism
of the Lord falls goes to the next day, Jan.7 or 8, a Monday, in order
to make room for the weeks of ordinary time.
What do YOU Think?
Send an e-mail to ML Editor
or post an entry on the ML Current IssueDiscussion
Board. (All submissions become the property of RPI and maybe edited
© 1999, Resource Publications, Inc. 160 E. Virginia St. #290, San
Jose, CA 95112, (408) 286-8505. This article may not be reproduced in any
form without permission from the publisher. For permission e-mail
Turner, pastor of St. Munchin Parish in Cameron, MO, holds a doctorate
in sacramental theology from Sant' Anselmo University in Rome.