Fernando Armellini SCJ
It all started at the Jordan, a river that flows peacefully in the plains of Jericho. There, all the inhabitants of Judea flocked to be baptized. One day, Jesus also appeared among the sinners. He was sharing their condition, accompanying them in their exodus from slavery to freedom.
God revealed in Jesus is not distant, in the sky, who controls and orders and punish those who violate them. He becomes one of us, in solidarity with humanity except in sin but bearing its consequences.
All the evangelists give importance to the baptism of Jesus, drawing our attention to the revelation from the sky. “He came out of the water and he saw the heavens opened.” Mark here refers to a famous text from the prophet Isaiah.
In the last centuries before Christ, the people of Israel had the feeling that the sky was closed. Outraged by the sins and unfaithfulness of his people, God had withdrawn into his world. He had stopped sending prophets and seemed to have broken all dialogue with people. The pious Israelites were wondering: when will this distressing silence end? Will the Lord not speak to us again? So they prayed. “Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down” (Is 63:19). In the baptism of Jesus, the heavens are rent.
Then we see the Spirit descending on Jesus like a dove. When God assigns someone to a great mission, he always gives him also the strength to carry it out. He infused his spirit on the kings, prophets, judges. The sent “servant” becomes conscious of the power of God entering him, says: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearts, freedom to those languishing in prison” (Is 61:1).
For centuries, since the sky closed itself, the spirit of the Lord seemed not to find a place on which to set itself. Like the dove of the deluge, it crossed the sky only to return later to God. Now it descends on Jesus, making his permanent dwelling in him.
Finally, a voice from heaven was heard. You are my son: the quote is from Ps 2:7. The context is of royal coronation. It was the moment in which God declared the king as his son.
Jesus’ investiture by the Father took place in the Jordan. There, he was shown to all as the savior, as the human face of God who exists from all eternity. “To what angel did God say—asks the author of the Letter to the Hebrews—You are my son; I have begotten you today? And to what angel did he promise: I shall be a father, and he shall be a son to me?” (Heb 1:5).
It is significant that God recognizes him as his son at the very moment when Jesus places himself at the side of sinners. His is the only authentic face of the Father. The other faces, above all, that of the judge who sentences, are only the masks that people have applied to him.
Translation by John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF