Today, in celebrating the Baptism of Jesus we proclaim two great truths of our faith.
First, the Baptism of Jesus is a restatement of yesterday’s belief in the Epiphany of the Lord. The word epiphany by itself means bringing to light what has been hidden. However, the word epiphany took on a more specific meaning in the ancient world. Emperors and kings, wanting to make the people fear them, claimed to be gods with unlimited power. They had people address them as the Epiphany, meaning they were to be adored as hidden gods appearing in human form.
Although we see the Epiphany as nothing more than the three kings worshipping God-made-man in the person of the Christ Child, many Eastern Catholics say that the Baptism of Jesus as the best expression of the Epiphany, especially when we think of Jesus, waist deep in the Jordan, with God from heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.
There is a second great Christian truth that is expressed in the Baptism of Jesus. In his Letter to the Ephesians St. Paul said he was given the privilege of announcing God’s secret plan for mankind. He said God secret plan was to “Sum up all things in Christ.” In other words, God’s plan was to have all of human history summed up in Jesus. Just as the Israelites passed through the Red Sea, then spent forty years in the desert, so Jesus comes up from the water to spend forty days in the desert. He was re-living Jewish history in miniature.