Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Baptism of Christ: Divine Abasement

Maître de Philippe de Levis-Mirepoix (1466-1537)
The initial "D" showing the Baptism  of Christ
From a two volume antiphonary commissioned by Philippe de Lévis, Bishop of Mirepoix
0.265 m. x  0.219 m.
Musée du Louvre, D.A.G., Paris 

Giovanni-Andrea Donducci (1575-1655)  "Il Mastellatta" 
The Baptism of Christ
Oil on canvas
1.660 m.  x  1.950 m.
Musée des Beaux-Arts,  Palais Fesch, Ajaccio

If he was God, why was Christ baptised by John the Baptist ? The Pope considered the question.

In his homily on 13th January 2013, the Pope said of the Feast of the Baptism of Christ:

"We celebrate today the feast of the Baptism of Jesus: that Child, son of the Virgin, whom we contemplated in the mystery of his birth, we see today as an adult immersing himself in the waters of the Jordan River, and in this way sanctifying all water and the whole cosmos, as the Eastern tradition emphasizes. 
But why did Jesus, in whom there was no shadow of sin have himself baptized by John? 
Why did he wish to perform that gesture of repentance and conversion together with many others who wanted to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah? 
That gesture, which marks the beginning of Christ’s public life, is situated in the same line as the Incarnation, of God’s descent from the highest heaven to the abyss of hell (“inferi”). 
The meaning of this movement of divine abasement is summed up in a single word: love, which is the very name of God. 
The apostle John writes: “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10). 
This is why the first act of Jesus was to receive the baptism of John, who, when he saw him coming, said: “Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29)."