Gospel Mk 1:7-11

The new horizon of love

This is the very beginning of Mark’s Gospel, who unlike both Luke and Matthew, leaves out the stories of the Nativity which we have spent the last few weeks meditating on.

Instead, Mark begins with the Baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan and this particular episode is just the first of a number of mysterious and confounding acts undertaken by Jesus over the course of His public ministry.

Why did Jesus seek to have himself baptised?

John’s baptism was a baptism of conversion and repentance, and yet we can be sure that Jesus, in his own person, was in no need of either of those things.

What we learn in this humble act of receiving baptism is that through Jesus, God comes down to meet me where I am. He has no aversion at all at the prospect of entering into the depths of our failings and mistakes, our selfishness and sinfulness.

Jesus’s baptism was, in essence, a prefiguring of the death he was to experience on the cross just three short years later – taking on the punishment due to all human sinfulness of all time.

We are called to emulate Jesus, not in the great miracles that he performed, but in his lowly acts of service and humility. In receiving this baptism he was accepting my guilt.

Point to Ponder

At the Jordan Jesus reveals himself with an extraordinary humility, reminiscent of the poverty and simplicity of the Child laid in the manger, and anticipates the sentiments with which, at the end of his days on earth, he will come to the point of washing the feet of the disciples and suffering the terrible humiliation of the Cross. The Son of God, the One who is without sin, puts himself among sinners, demonstrates God’s closeness to the process of the human being’s conversion. Jesus takes upon his shoulders the burden of sin of the whole of humanity, he begins his mission by putting himself in our place, in the place of sinners, in the perspective of the Cross.

Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, Sunday, 10 January 2010