The feast of the Baptism of the Lord is the final day of the Christmas season. That fact may come as a surprise for many people who have long ago taken down their tree, packed away their stockings, and put away their manger scenes. Christmas was last month! We are in a new year now! But the Church continues to celebrate the joy of Christmas long after Dec. 25. The feast of Christ’s Nativity only begins the celebration for us. For the Church, the Christmas season includes not only Christmas Day itself but incorporates other important feasts including Epiphany and today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Why might this be? Associating Epiphany with Christmas makes sense. After all, the magi’s visit is still part of the infancy narratives in the gospels. It naturally flows from the story of Christ’s birth. But the Baptism of the Lord? Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist took place about thirty years after His birth. Christ was a grown man at the time. His baptism marked the beginning of His public ministry. What does that have to do with Christmas? . . .