Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. We see that moment where John the Baptist has just baptized Jesus when “the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice comes from heaven and says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
As Catholics, we believe that baptism is a sacrament. That it is more than just a symbolic gesture; that God actually does something when we’re baptized. He washes away our sins and imbues us with the Holy Spirit. Baptism leaves an indelible mark on our souls. Given this, many would ask the question, why would Jesus need to be baptized? After all, He had no sin. He certainly didn’t “need” to be baptized. Great question. When you think about it, Jesus didn’t really “need” to be born, did He? God could have chosen a completely different way to save us from our sins.
Baptism cleanses us, sanctifies us, sets us apart for God. But Jesus didn't need any of these things; He is God. St. Maximus of Turin said this: "Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched." So, the water didn't make Jesus holy; rather, Jesus sanctified the water. As followers of Jesus, we follow His lead into the waters that He changed, which will change us forever.
Father, we thank you for the gift of our baptism. May we always live out our baptismal promises. Amen.