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Catechism of the Catholic Church

The baptism of Jesus

535 Jesus' public life begins with his baptism by John in the Jordan. 228 John preaches "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins". 229 A crowd of sinners 230 - tax collectors and soldiers, Pharisees and Sadducees, and prostitutes- come to be baptized by him. "Then Jesus appears." The Baptist hesitates, but Jesus insists and receives baptism. Then the Holy Spirit, in the form of a dove, comes upon Jesus and a voice from heaven proclaims, "This is my beloved Son." 231 This is the manifestation ("Epiphany") of Jesus as Messiah of Israel and Son of God.

536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". 232 Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of his bloody death. 233 Already he is coming to "fulfil all righteousness", that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father's will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. 234 The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. 235 The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on him". 236 Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism "the heavens were opened" 237 - the heavens that Adam's sin had closed - and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.

537 Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and "walk in newness of life": 238

Let us be buried with Christ by Baptism to rise with him; let us go down with him to be raised with him; and let us rise with him to be glorified with him. 239

Everything that happened to Christ lets us know that, after the bath of water, the Holy Spirit swoops down upon us from high heaven and that, adopted by the Father's voice, we become sons of God. 240

Notes:

228 Cf. Lk 3:23; Acts 1:22.

229 Lk 3:3.

230 Cf. Lk 3:10-14; Mt 3:7; 21:32.

231 Mt 3:13-17.

232 Jn 1:29; cf. Isa 53:12.

233 Cf. Mk 10:38; Lk 12:50.

234 Mt 3:15; cf. 26:39.

235 Cf. Lk 3:22; Isa 42:1.

236 Jn 1:32-33; cf. Isa 11:2.

237 Mt 3:16.

238 Rom 6:4.

239 St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Oratio 40, 9: PG 36, 369.

240 St. Hilary of Poitiers, In Matth. 2, 5: PL 9, 927.

English Translation of the Cathechism of the Catholic Church for the United States of America © 1997, United States Catholic Conference, Inc.

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