Christmas: A Call to Baptism

Matthew’s gospel was the gospel most used for catechesis in the early church. It also plays an important role in the creation of our Christmas season. It gives us the Feast of the Epiphany, for example. Jesus Christ came for the gentiles as well as for the Jews.

I think Matthew’s gospel is also an important source for our upcoming Feast of the Baptism of Jesus which closes the Christmas season. Matthew sees baptism as a way of repentance. That’s how John the Baptist describes it in Matthew’s gospel: “In those days, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming: ‘Repent, the kingdom of God is near.’” (Mt 3,1-2)

When Pharisee and Sadducees come for baptism, John calls them “a brood of vipers” because they presume they are saved as “children of Abraham.” “God is able to raise up from these stones children of Abraham, “ John says to them.

Baptism is not an entitlement. Baptism is a commitment to repentance. That’s important for us to realize too.

But repentance is a difficult path. Can we do it alone?  John continues in Matthew’s gospel with the promise that one more powerful than he is coming. “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” When we are baptized into Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit and his fire to continue on the path of repentance.

Christmas is not just for looking at the Child in a manger; it’s a call  to enter into the mystery of Jesus Christ.


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