January 6, 2023 –
“So there are three that testify, the Spirit, the water, and the Blood, and the three are of one accord.”
There are three options for today’s Gospel Reading. The second and third are longer and shorter forms of the same basic passage. All three are preparing us for the end, which is to say, the goal, of Christmastide.
I don’t often refer in these reflections to the accompanying work of sacred art, but today I will. The last day of Christmastide in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This event is pictured in the sacred art below. Yet Our Lord and St. John the Baptist are surrounded by angels and saints: that is, various members of what the Church calls the Communion of Saints.
This work of art visually links the ends of the two most important seasons of the Church’s liturgical year. The end of Christmastide is the Baptism of the Lord, while the end of Eastertide is Pentecost. Each Christian is one member of the Mystical Body of Christ through the three sacraments of initiation: Baptism, Confirmation, and the Holy Eucharist. These three vehicles of God’s grace are at least indirectly alluded to in today’s First Reading. The “Spirit, the water, and the Blood” symbolize the Sacraments of Confirmation, Baptism, and the Holy Eucharist. By means of these Sacraments of Initiation—sacraments of a “second birth”, we might say—Christ becomes our life, and we are called always to live in Him.