The first verses of today's gospel make it clear that the baptism of John is only a preparation for the coming of Jesus. His baptism is in water only, whereas the baptism that Jesus offers is also "with the Holy Spirit and fire" (Luke 3:16). This is a reference no doubt to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and in the daily activities of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
The beautiful description of Saint Luke on the consequences of the baptism of Jesus must not be seen simply as something that happened to Jesus alone, more than two thousand years ago. For in our own baptism we have become part of the new creation and God speaks to us also with those same loving and empowering words that he spoke to Jesus (adapted in our situation): "You are my beloved child; I love you very much." With these divine words we are truly joined to the person and the mission of Jesus.
Jesus heard these words of his heavenly Father all throughout his ministry. When he went aside to pray, he would be comforted and reassured and strengthened by these loving words. We too would do well to set aside some time each day to listen as God whispers to us that we are so loved that we do not ever need to be afraid. As we do that, we enter into the full meaning and power of our baptism and we find the secret of living in gratitude and hope.