Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
John the Baptist was a cousin of Jesus. His parents were Zechariah and Elizabeth. John had religion in his genes. Zechariah was a priest at the Temple in Jerusalem and it is likely that he would often bring John as a young boy to his place of work. John was well familiar with life at the Temple. He knew its practices and its traditions. Some might have expected that he would follow in his father's footsteps and himself one day become a Temple priest.
So why is it that we find John, now an adult, in the wilderness? John has turned his back on the Temple and its traditions. The Temple had become corrupt. Later we will see how Jesus lost his temper and threw the money changers and sellers out of the Temple. When it comes to the trial of Jesus, the High Priest of the Temple was in cahoots with Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate, plotting the death of an innocent man.
John becomes a priest of the wilderness, the place of cleansing. John expected to find the Messiah in the wilderness, in the place where cleansing takes place. In the Baptist's mind, it is only when one enters into spiritual renewal and cleansing that one encounters the Lord.
And John was proved correct. Today's Gospel tells us how it happened: "It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.'"