Now, there is a wonderful progression in our lectionary readings beginning with the Advent season and on through the Christmas season; continuing through the Epiphany celebration and finally to the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan.
During the Sundays of Advent we heard the same message proclaimed four times in many different ways: be prepared, because the One, promised by God through the prophets, is coming! The angel of the Lord makes it clear to Mary that this One will be named Jesus, and will be the Son of God. Then on Christmas day, we celebrate the Incarnation; but Christ is born in a stable, in a cave, not in a royal setting. We journey with the Magi to come to Jesus and worship him. Finally, Jesus makes his public appearance as an adult, and is baptised by John. Even after all of this advance warning and anticipation, just in case there is any doubt remaining about whether this man is really the Messiah, at his baptism the Holy Spirit hovers over Jesus and we hear the voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son. My favour rests on him.”
Think about it: this is an absolutely incredible, wonderful mystery! That God himself would become a human, joining himself to our existence and thereby giving our humanity a great dignity! We heard from the prophets; from the angels; from John the Baptist; and now from our heavenly Father: this is the One! I believe this is why the “hidden years” of Jesus will remain just that: they are unessential to understand in faith the greater mystery of the Incarnation. It is this “jump” over the early years of Jesus’ life in Nazareth that keeps our focus on the main theme: this is the Messiah, this is the Son of God! Jesus saves!
The prophets had foretold that the Spirit of God would rest on the Messiah as a sign of his identity. This occurred as told in today’s gospel (Matt. 3:13-17). The heavens that were opened over Jesus were those that were closed by the sin of Adam, and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit.