A New Creation Story
I was baptized almost 76 years ago in the Grey Nun’s (now called the Pasqua) Hospital in Regina, Saskatchewan. I suspect no one but my mother, my mother’s cousin whom I would subsequently always call Aunt Eva (my Godmother), and the priest were present.
Little plump me was born with whooping cough. So an emergency baptism. They didn’t want me to go to limbo! After three quarters of a century I have becoming more and more appreciative of the event of that day.
A short while ago we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of Jesus which some call the third Epiphany of the Christmas season, – the first, being the revealing of the infant Jesus in the manger to the Shepherds who were sent there by the Angels, the second, the revealing of Jesus to all the nations through the three wise men lead by the star of Bethlehem.
The third was the Baptism of Jesus. Not angels or a star, but, God, the Blessed Trinity, revealing Jesus’ true identity: “You are my Son, whom I love.”
Fr. Mark Link, a Jesuit theologian, says that if we want to understand the meaning of Jesus baptism, we should pray about the three part description of this event in St. Luke’s Gospel (3:21-22): the heavens open, the dove descends, the voice is heard.
All three make reference to the first creation and point to Jesus being the first born of the new creation:
First, the heavens are opened above the place in the water where Jesus is standing. It seems the image refers to the prophet Isaiah’s prayer and plea with God to “tear open the sky” and “come down and set things right on earth”.
Second, the descending of the Holy Spirit like a dove upon Jesus reflects the description in Genesis of the Spirit of God hovering over the waters, the crucial moment in the creation story, God about to act bringing order out of chaos.
And finally God’s voice declares Jesus, in whom He is well pleased, the new Adam, God’s firstborn of the new creation.
Jesus’s baptism began a new creation story for the world and for each of us. At that moment Jesus begins to bring order out of the chaos of our sins. Even though he is Son of God, and even though he is without sin, Jesus identifies not only with us as a mortal human being but also with us who are sinners.
The water does not wash him. He cleans the water so that it can cleanse us of our sins. When we are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit we become at that moment a new creation beginning to live the new life in Christ.
We truly become, as St John keeps reminding us in his letters, children of God. From that moment the Holy Spirit lives within us to strengthen us to be God’s children and to help us give up anything that does not lead us to God.
For me all this started in a hospital in Regina after a monster March snow storm in 1943. After all these years I’m still striving to be that child of God, brother of Jesus, and heir to the fullness of life in His resurrection!