Gospel Message & Recording
As the celebrations and religious observances for Christmas and New Year’s Day come to a close, we approach the first Sunday of 2018. Here, we encounter the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, referred to as Danaha in Syriac tradition, Theophany in the Greek tradition, and Epiphany in the Western tradition. (Luke 3:15-22) In the early Church, Danaha was observed with more importance and reverence than Christmas. This is because the Church recognized the start of Jesus’ ministry (at his Baptism) as more important than His birth. To some degree, it is similar to why we celebrate the date of a Saint’s death rather than their birth. Therefore, Christmas and New Year’s (Circumcision of Jesus and memory of St. Basil and St. Gregory) was sort of a “lead-in” to the greater Feast Danaha. As the centuries passed, slowly Christmas began to take root and establish itself as greater Feast, due to social and cultural reasons. At present, Christmas is by far the most opulent (culturally and socially speaking) of all Feast Days. It is accompanied by caroling, family gatherings, gift giving, eating, and more. Danaha, therefore, has taken a “back-seat” to Christmas and lost its value within the Church. Nevertheless, the significance of the Baptism of Jesus Christ, and its narratives found in the Gospels remain to this day, a great treasure of spiritual sustenance for all the faithful.
The main focus of the Baptism narrative is Christ, but a close secondary focus is John the Baptist; the one who baptized Jesus Christ. In the Gospels, Christ refers to John as “the greatest man born of a woman.” (Matthew 11:11) Simply put, he is the greatest man that ever lived. He was considered great by our Lord because he lived a life of integrity and fulfilled his purpose in life. His purpose was to “make way” for the Messiah, that is, prepare the hearts and minds of the people for the ministry of our Lord. That is why he is called the “forerunner” of Jesus Christ. Because he stuck with God’s plan for his life, the legacy that he left in this world continues till this day. This is why we remember him only second to Mary the Mother of God, among the ranks of the Saints. When we depart from this world, what will people say about us? What legacy will we leave behind? What type of reputation will we leave behind?
We might be in a position where we think we have squandered our reputation or marred our legacy. In God’s eyes, no one is too late, or too far behind. For example, Jesus said that wherever the Gospel was preached, Mary (the gospels are inconclusive as to which Mary is referenced) would be remembered for what she had done. (Matthew 26:10) What did she do? She anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and dried them with her hair. We don’t know the details of Mary’s life. But we can assume that it wasn’t perfect. She was most likely going through difficulties and struggles in her life, possibly the reason for her particularly extravagant actions toward Christ. Whatever the case might be, by order of Christ, her name is remembered throughout the world. Her great legacy is carried on to this day.
As we ponder on the Baptism of Christ, let’s ask ourselves: what sort of reputation do I want to leave behind?
What will my legacy be like? Will my children be able to carry on my legacy of faith in their generation?
As John began to baptize Jesus, the heavens opened and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased.” At present, is God pleased with your life; or rather, when you leave this world, will He be pleased with the legacy that you left behind?