Today, in celebrating the Baptism of Jesus we repeat last Sunday’s feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, with the word epiphany meaning revealing greatness which had been hidden. Many Eastern Catholics see the Baptism of Jesus as the best expression of the Epiphany. They hear the Father announcing, ”This is my beloved Son on whom I am well pleased.”
The scene is precious, with Jesus bare to the waist, and standing waist deep in the Jordan. I once had my niece paint a watercolor of Jesus that way, and I tacked it to the blackboard of the room where I was teaching.
There is a second great Christian truth 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 was to spend forty days in the desert. He was re-living Jewish history in miniature.