Daily Reflection – 1/9/2023
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’ But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’ Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved,* with whom I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3: 13-17)
Why did Jesus, without sin, submit himself to be baptized by John?
In this humble submission of Jesus, we see a foreshadowing of the “baptism” of his bloody death on the cross. Jesus’ baptism is the acceptance and the beginning of his mission as God’s suffering son. He submitted himself entirely to his Father’s will.
Out of love he consented to this baptism of death for the forgiveness of our sins. He knew the path that lay ahead. He knew the torture that his body would endure. With all of that, we still see Jesus ever compliant so that his death on the cross would bring you and me the opportunity to be forever reconciled with his father.
It is a love like no other love that you may have experienced. It is unconditional. It is unmerited and undeserving. No words can describe it except this – It is a love demonstrated by the greatest act of sacrifice – a Father who gives up a Son and a Son who give up his life.
There is no word in our human language that could ever convey to the human intelligence the immensity of it.
Matthew tells us in one brief sentence that it defies definition, baffles all description, that it is inexpressible, unspeakable. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” The gift of His Son would have to be the proof and measure of God’s love. We may consider it, but never comprehend it; we may know it, but it surpasses all knowledge; we may speak of it, but it is unspeakable; we may search the breadth, length, depth and height of it, but all dimensions and magnitudes fail to supply plummet or compass by which we may tell the extent of it. His gift is unspeakable.
Not some warm fuzzy kind of emotion or sentiment. It is profoundly deep and complex. The Incarnation and the Cross; the suffering the Son had to endure; His sorrows, the suffering and shame of Gethsemane and Golgotha, the darkness, the woe, His death and shedding of his blood taken together is the answer to the question of the extent of God’s love. It was God’s utterance of an unutterable love; His love declared by His unspeakable gift.
An unspeakable gift must produce unspeakable joy. Every earthly pleasure can be spoken because it is temporary and conditional. But God’s unspeakable gift of Love carries us beyond the confines of this realm, beyond the limits of time and space, and thus thrills us with divine joy, unspeakable in human speech. It is the joy of faith, the joy of love, not natural but divine. And strange though it may seem, this unspeakable joy goes along with the heaviness of the Cross.
On earth, trials and sorrow will be our inevitable lot, a light affliction nonetheless; but in heaven, we can only experience a far more exceeding weight of glory. All that is imperfect, and belongs to our present state of mortality, will be swept away by the power of immortality. And that which is humanly unspeakable will now be spoken because and heaven’s language will become our familiar tongue.
When it comes to love, humanity’s version is but a pale shadow compared to the truth of God’s love. “God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son.” This is God’s love, and it is this type of love that God would have us emulate.
We are called to be the “light and salt” of his kingdom that radiate the beauty and aroma of his mercy and goodness to those around us.
Prayer of The Day
Lord Jesus, you have been kind and forgiving towards me. May I be merciful as you are merciful. Free me from all bitterness and resentment that I may truly forgive from the heart those who have caused me injury or grief.
We see in this gospel that the decisive point is that whoever scorns God’s love condemns himself. God is not at all eager to condemn men. He is nothing but Love, Love that goes as far as the Father sacrificing his Son out of love for the world. There is nothing more for him to give us. The whole question now is whether we accept God’s unconditional love so that it can prove efficacious and fruitful in our lives, or whether we choose to continue to cower in our darkness in order to evade the illuminating love of his grace.