This Sunday, we have the special blessing of a “visitation” from our Bishop, Mariann Budde. According to canon law, every diocesan bishop is to visit every congregation in his or her diocese at least once every three years. “The canonical purposes of a visitation are for the bishop to examine the condition of the congregation, oversee the clergy, preach, confirm, preside at the Eucharist, and examine parochial records.” This is an encounter, in Christ’s love, between shepherd and flock. We are blessed to have a good shepherd after the heart of the Good Shepherd, Jesus (John 10:11). Please make it a point to be present, to show our love, and to be nurtured. And, bring a friend, so that we be numerous in so doing!
This Sunday we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of our Lord. Jesus did not need to be baptized. He was baptized for us. Jesus makes use of John’s Baptism to institute the Baptism which confers grace. As St. Gregory Nazianzus (+390) says, “By going to John to be baptized by him, He sanctified baptism.” St. Thomas Aquinas (+1274) echoes these thoughts some nine centuries later, when he says “Jesus wished to be baptized with a baptism which He clearly needed not, that those who needed it might approach unto it.”
The Baptism of Jesus is another manifestation of Jesus, following that of the Epiphany: “The heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’” (Luke 3:22) Jesus is manifested as “the Beloved”, in whom each of us is “the beloved.” God gives us everything, so that we participate in the divine life, in the Trinitarian life revealed here. Indeed, “the Son of God became man so that we might become God”. (St. Athanasius +373)
It is fitting that Bishop Mariann’s visit be on this feast. She comes to manifest Jesus to us. Let us rejoice.
Yours faithfully in Christ,