Jesus' Second Birthday
Today we celebrate Jesus’ birthday. “Wait a minute?” You might exclaim. “Didn’t we do that a couple weeks ago?” Saint Maximus of Turin can explain.
At Christmas he was born a man; today he is reborn sacramentally. Then he was born from the Virgin; today he is born in mystery. When he was born a man, his mother Mary held him close to her heart; when he is born in mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice when he says: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased: listen to him.” The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap; the Father serves his Son by his loving testimony. The mother holds the child for the Magi to adore; the Father reveals that his Son is to be worshiped by all the nations.
But why would Jesus, a holy man, indeed, sinless, seek to be baptized by John, a baptism of repentance. Saint Maximus goes on:
Christ is baptized, not to be made holy by the water, but to make the water holy, and by his cleansing to purify the waters which he touched. For the consecration of Christ involves a more significant consecration of the water.
Jesus was baptized to cleanse the water - He was consecrated so that the water would be consecrated for our consecration into him. As the Israelites followed the pillar of cloud and fire through the Red Sea when they left the slavery of Egypt, we follow Jesus through the waters of baptism and are made free from sin - we become marked as God’s own and undertake a new path of life to holiness.
In three weeks, we will celebrate another related event in Jesus’ life - his presentation in the Temple. It was Jewish law that every firstborn male belonged to God and had to be redeemed by offering a sacrifice. Presentation, consecration, sacrifice. This is still how we grow in love of God and holiness today. Jesus’ life is re-presented (or should be) in the life of every baptized Christian.
It is also on the Feast of the Presentation that the Church celebrates World Day of Consecrated Life. As we celebrate Jesus baptism and give thanks for our own, let’s prepare to recognize consecrated men and women who follow Him in a very particular way. Beginning Friday, February 1st at 4:00 p.m. Pacific, a worldwide 40 Hours for Consecrated Life will begin! Will you offer to the Lord one hour for consecrated life? Take the pledge and invite your family, friends and parish to do the same! Also, be sure to follow this event on Facebook!