Why did Jesus wait so long to be baptised?
On Sunday, we celebrate the baptism of Jesus. Though he was sinless, Jesus joined the ranks of sinners and was baptised by John in the waters of the Jordan.
Jesus lived for thirty years at Nazareth before being baptised. Why did he wait so long to be baptised and to begin his public ministry? Was he merely idling his life away? Nothing could be further from the truth.
A vocation requires a period of apprenticeship and formation. The profound experiences that shape a person’s character, the things that make him or her what they are, take time.
During the thirty years he spent at Nazareth, he had been growing quietly, in wisdom and in grace. But all the while he was waiting for a call to something more important.
When the call (to begin his ministry) finally came, it was no stranger to him. It was always in him, but he couldn’t hurry it. He couldn’t have done it earlier. The future has to enter into us long before it happens.
Baptism was the moment of decision. On the day of his baptism he said goodbye to his old life at Nazareth and committed himself irrevocably to the work he had been sent into the world to do, namely, to bring sinners back to God.
From that moment on his life would never be the same. All his hidden qualities of care and love, which had been growing quietly like wheat in a field, now manifested themselves and were given full expression.
At baptism we were pointed in a very specific direction. In baptism we share in the life of God. In baptism we become disciples of Jesus. We are called to fight against evil and to love one another.
We, too, are called to grow in wisdom and grace. It took Jesus thirty years to reach maturity and to acquire wisdom. It will take us a lifetime to grow, to mature and to ripen as human beings and children of God.
May God give us the patience and strength to nurture into ripeness the seeds God sowed in us on the day of our spiritual birth, the day of our baptism.
– an edited excerpt from New Sunday & Holy Liturgies, Year B, Flor McCarthy SDB, Dominican Publications.