Jesus’ first public act, his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist, was one of joining the people coming together in prayer, particularly a penitential prayer. This is why the Baptist initially opposes it, saying: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” (Mt 3:14). But Jesus insists: his baptism, in obedience to the father, is an act of solidarity with our human condition. Jesus is not a sinner, but he comes down to us, and he prays with us, indeed he is always praying with us, whenever we pray!
The Gospel of Luke highlights how the baptism of Jesus took place in an atmosphere of prayer: “Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened” (Lk 3:21). By praying, Jesus opens the door to the heavens, and the Holy Spirit descends. And from on high a voice proclaims the wonderful truth: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22).
Jesus reveals that God is not distant, because he has come to us; and now he is revealing that prayer is filial. God is a Father, inviting us into relationship as His children. This is the filial prayer God desires from all of us, lived out in the humanity of His Son (cf. Catechism 2599.)
Jesus’ ministry, and His heart, is always turned to the Father. “Jesus is never without the refuge of a dwelling place: he dwells eternally in the Father.”
Pope Francis notes how this prayer of Jesus is an encouragement for us, especially when our prayer feels sluggish, empty, or completely useless: “We must at that moment beg that Jesus’ prayer also become our own. “I cannot pray today, I don’t know what to do: I don’t feel like it, I am unworthy”. In that moment, it is necessary to entrust ourselves to him so that he may pray for us, He is before the Father, praying for us; he is the intercessor; he shows the wounds to the Father, for us. Let us trust in this!”
- Pope Francis invites us to meditate on the first Luminous mystery, the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River: Luke 3:21-22.
May we pray with perseverance and humility, confident that, as Christ’s brothers and sisters, we are beloved sons and daughters of our heavenly Father, and the gates of heaven are always open to us.