"You are my beloved Son. . ." the voice proclaims. Just as the visit of the magi, which we celebrated yesterday, bestows honor upon Jesus, so too this voice honors Jesus. The kings of Israel, the prophets, and the high priests were all regarded as "Sons of God." Jesus, who in human terms is a carpenter's son, would not ordinarily be regarded with such dignity or honor. While there is nothing shameful in laboring with one's hands, it would be shameful conduct to act like a prophet or as a teacher if one was a simple carpenter. The Gospels indicate that Jesus' public ministry begins with this proclamation in order to counter that notion.
The word Messiah means “Anointed.” In Jewish ritual, kings and high priests were anointed. Jesus, the carpenter’s son is anointed by the Spirit as he comes up from the waters of the Jordan River. Jesus is thus commissioned to begin his prophetic work and ministry, a work of inclusivity and the relinquishment of bondage and fear. As the heavens open Jesus is identified as the beloved one of God. One other son in the Hebrew Scriptures was also called beloved; namely, Isaac, the one who faced the knife as his father is put to the test. So even as he begins his public ministry, the specter of suffering and death lurk in the shadows.
A proclamation such as this would be tested immediately in this society. This is why the Gospels follow this event with the desert experience of Jesus. He is tempted while in the desert. If he really is the Son of God, then he should have the strength to act accordingly. Though Satan mightily attempts to prove the heavenly voice wrong, Jesus proves to be exactly what the voice proclaims him to be.
This feast comes to us today on a Monday as it does whenever Christmas falls on Sunday or Monday. Today's feast brings the Christmas Season to an end. May the blessings of our Incarnate God be with us throughout the coming year!
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator