Today is the seventh day of Bright Week, the joyful celebration of the Resurrection of Christ. In today’s Apostolic Reading, St. Peter again proclaims, “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses” (Acts 3:15). The gospel returns to the theme of baptism, for our life in Christ through the mystery of baptism is the beginning of our share in Christ’s eternal resurrection.
The gospel today begins, “After this, Jesus and his disciples went into the region of Judea, where he spent some time with them baptizing” (John 3:22). This is the only passage in the gospels that tells of Jesus baptizing, and he raised a theological problem: if Jesus baptized, would this be already the saving baptism in water and the Spirit. St. John, therefore, corrects himself in the next section of his gospel, “Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself was not baptizing, just his disciples), he left Judea and returned to Galilee” (John 4:1-3).
The icon posted here, from the Novgorod School, nonetheless depicts Jesus baptizing, a baptism that is life-giving. Whatever the meaning of John 3:22, as a people reborn in the Holy Trinity in the font of baptism, the life-giving baptism of water and the Spirit, today we seal the feast in the joy of our baptism, in which we died with Christ, so that we could rise with him in his resurrection” (Romans 6:3-4).
Meditation by Archpriest David Petras