Last Monday we had the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord in the Jordan. Today I want to share with you an ancient reflection on this mystery given by Proclus of Constantinople in the 5th century.
“Christ appeared in the world, and, bringing beauty out of disarray, gave it luster and joy. He bore the world’s sin and crushed the world’s enemy. He sanctified the fountains of waters and enlightened the minds of men. Into the fabric of miracles he interwove ever greater miracles.
For on this day land and sea share between them the grace of the Savior, and the whole world is filled with joy. Today’s feast manifests even more wonders than the feast of Christmas.
On the feast of the Savior’s birth, the earth rejoiced because it bore the Lord in a manger; but on today’s feast it is the sea that is glad and leaps for joy; the sea is glad because it receives the blessing of holiness in the river Jordan.
At Christmas we saw a weak baby, giving proof of our weakness. In today’s feast, we see a perfect man, hinting at the perfect Son who proceeds from the all-perfect Father.
At Christmas the King puts on the royal robe of his body; [his divinity] enfolds and, as it were, clothes the river.
Come then and see new and astounding miracles: the Sun of righteousness washing in the Jordan, fire immersed in water, God sanctified by the ministry of man.
To Jews and Greeks alike God bestows salvation through baptism, offering baptism as a common grace for all.
Come, consider this new and wonderful deluge, greater and more important than the flood of Noah’s day. Then the water of the flood destroyed the human race, but now the water of baptism has recalled the dead to life by the power of the one who was baptized. In the days of the flood the dove with an olive branch in its beak foreshadowed the fragrance of the good odor of Christ the Lord; now the Holy Spirit, coming in the likeness of a dove, reveals the Lord of mercy.”
The Baptism of the Lord both reminds us of the necessity of this great Sacrament and the incredible gift we have received through it. The One without sin deigned to be placed in the waters so that the waters might receive the power to impart to us his sinlessness. The flame of Deity was immersed in water so that by water we might participate in his divinity. Christ our Savior was baptized so that by our baptisms we might be saved.
Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!