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Salvation history, the Jordan River, and the Sacrament of Baptism

On today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord, I have the great joy of administering this sacrament to my own newborn nephew, James Patrick. Although he won’t remember it, this will be the best and most important day of his life. This is no hyperbole. There is nothing more important anyone can obtain in life than the Sacrament of Baptism. This will be the day of his spiritual rebirth, in which he will receive a share of the Divine Life, making him a child of God and an heir of Heaven. The Lord teaches: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:5).

The water I will use to baptize my nephew was gathered from the Jordan River on my recent pilgrimage to the Holy Land. It is well known, of course, that this is the river where Jesus was baptized at the hands of His cousin, St. John. The many wonderful events of the Old Testament that took place within this same river’s waters are not as well known. Especially on today’s feast, they are worthy of prayerful reflection because they reveal the designs of Divine Providence in prefiguring Christ’s institution of the Sacrament of Baptism.

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