Jesus Opened Heaven for You
Gospel Reflection for January 9, 2023
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?’ Jesus said to him in reply, ‘Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he allowed him. After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened [for him], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove [and] coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’” (Matthew 3:13-17 NABRE)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus began the mission for which He came. By being baptized, He demonstrated submission and acceptance towards the will of the Father, and initiated the beginning of His salvific journey.
“The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant.”1
When Jesus went to John seeking to be baptized, John hesitated, knowing that the Lord was sinless and that Jesus was the One Who should be baptizing. However, Jesus told John to “allow it,” because He sought to fulfill the will of God in all righteousness. He sought to show us the way, which He did in this moment by demonstrating the importance of baptism.
By being baptized:
“He allows himself to be numbered among sinners… Already he is anticipating the ‘baptism’ of his bloody death. Already he is coming to ‘fulfill 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.”2
The Father is pleased with Jesus’ acceptance of His will and takes delight in the Son. And significantly, the Heavens were opened.
“At his baptism ‘the heavens were opened’ - the heavens that Adam's sin had closed…”3
It is through this act of submission to the Father’s will, and the Passion and death that Jesus took upon Himself for our sake, that the Heavens were opened for us.
Jesus accepted the Father’s will, regardless of the suffering He would endure, in order to attain salvation for you and for me. May we imitate our Lord by always pursing righteousness and by submitting to the will of the Father, even when His will includes suffering.
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 536.