The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is celebrated a week after Epiphany, which in the traditional rite is today, January 13, whereas the Novus Ordo rite celebrated it yesterday. The Christmas season ends with the celebrations of these two epiphanies of Christ, the latter of which comes at the beginning of His public ministry when He is 30 years old.
Yep. Welcome to the Catholic Church, the only place you can fast forward about 28 years in just 7 days.
All jokes aside, the feast of Our Lord’s Baptism marking the end of the Christmas season is appropriate. Although chronologically it happened many years after His Birth, the feast occurring not long after Christmas reminds us of the order that Catholics receive the initial Sacraments, with Baptism being the first. We enter into the Faith as into Christ’s death. So, the significance of Christ Himself receiving this sacrament is that He entered into His mission, i.e. dying for the salvation of man. And it is also our mission insofar as we are called to die to ourselves for our own salvation. Furthermore, when Christ approached John the Baptist to be baptized, He told John, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). He desired to take on our human nature in all things except sin. If we would need to be baptized in order to participate in His salvation, then He wanted to be baptized as well in order to show us the way and share in our lowliness, even though it was not necessary.
Christ’s Baptism also calls to mind our own baptism. This feast is a day for us to call to mind our baptismal promises and to evaluate how well we have kept them and how we are doing on our journey. This is especially helpful to do now since Ash Wednesday will be here before we know it (crazy!). And, if you attend the Traditional Latin Mass, the Septuagesima “pre-Lenten” season starts even earlier (February 9th). The Lenten season is a time of self-denial and penance and reflecting on our baptismal promises is good preparation for this, helping us see where we need to improve. This way, when Lent starts, we’ll have a better idea of our goals and what we need to do to continue the mission that Christ has given us.