Yesterday’s gospel reading of Matthew’s account of the baptism of Christ (3:13 – 17) touches on a great mystery. Why would Christ, who was sinless, have need to be baptised? That is the very question posed by the Baptist to Christ: “I need to be baptised by you, but do you come to me?” The Baptist recognised the divinity of Christ – so how could the creator submit to his creation. As tone eight of the third hour of epiphany Eve puts it: “I dare not touch thy head, O Logos. Do thou thyself in thy mercy sanctify and enlighten me: for you are the life in the light and the peace of the world.”
So, what was Christ referring to when he said to the Baptist: “let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness”. The word “dikaiosyne” has two principal meanings: justice being one and righteousness in the sense of having fulfilled the law being the other. The law is fulfilled in the sense that it follows its natural course to its inevitable conclusion. So, the question now is which law is being fulfilled by the act of baptism of Christ by John?
The answer is that Christ’s baptism is a fulfilment of all the Mosaic Law as it is set out in the old Testament. The old Testament was full of prophecy concerning the Messiah, the son of God who entered the world as God – man, and through baptism announced to the world the commencement of his public ministry. John did no more than declare Christ as the saviour of the world.
Notice also the small Pentecost: the Holy Spirit descends and centres on Christ. Indeed God can now announce to his creation: “this is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased”. You see, Christ had to enter his baptism so he could bring righteousness to us all. That is he surpassed the law and faith in him became the way to salvation.. As the apostle Paul puts it: “now before faith came, we were confined under the law, kept under restraint until faith should be revealed. So that the law was a custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith. But now the faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian; for in Jesus Christ you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptised into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for your all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to a promise.” (Galatians 3:23 – 29). The apostle Paul always had a great way with words!. (If you don’t get it then I suggest you read what is said slowly and carefully a few times and meditate upon it – I promise you the effort will be worthwhile)
The programme for this week is (at least liturgically) a light one – just the English liturgy on Saturday morning from 9 AM to 10:15 AM. I will otherwise be engaged in house blessings. Tomorrow and Wednesday I will be focusing upon Dianella and surrounding areas. If You want your house blessed (and I have not previously been to you) let me know… If I haven’t been to you by the end of next week also let me know
As we begin to settle back into ” ordinary time” the mundane things in life need to be resumed. Please make an effort to support our food store. In that regard a special thanks to those of all had helped and continue to help an ongoing basis (both you and God know who you are!) . If you wish to help financially the account details that our store operates from are: BSB 082057 account 616004624.
Baptism is a fresh start. A departure from the old. It promises the adventure of the new and provided we walk in the steps of Christ we are heirs to the promise. So, do not give up on yourself – we are all worthy no matter how many times we stumble and fall, provided that we have the will to pick ourselves up and try, and try, and try, and try again and again.
Till next time.
Father John Athanasiou 0411 061 554