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The Baptism of the Lord

January 13

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every year that begins at 12:00am on day second of January, repeating indefinitely

The Bountiful Blessings of Baptism
“Why did Jesus insist on being baptized?”
Jesus, the Beginning of the New Creation: The Readings for the Baptism of the Lord
Feast of THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD [Catholic Caucus]
The Theophany of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
The Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ
Baptism of the Lord: Our Power
Heaven, a Dove, a Voice [Baptism of the Lord]
Prayer and Meditation – Baptism of our Lord


Arlington Catholic Herald

Why was Jesus baptized?

Fr. Paul Scalia

Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic | CNS Photo

Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist at the Jordan River is depicted in a stained-glass window at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Greenlawn, N.Y. The feast of the Baptism of the Lord, celebrated Jan. 12 this year, marks the end of the Christmas season.

Why was Jesus baptized? Christians have asked this question for centuries. Sinless, He had no need to repent and therefore no need of John’s baptism “for repentance.” Likewise He has no need of Christian baptism. As the Holy One of Israel, He has no sins to be washed away. As the eternal Son, the waters of rebirth are superfluous to Him. Even John the Baptist wonders at Jesus’ approach for baptism. Trying to prevent Him John says, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” (Mt 3:14) Why then was He baptized?

To make sense of His baptism, we need to situate it within the overall unity of Our Lord’s life. He more than anyone possessed unity of life. The various events, actions and words of His life were not isolated and unconnected but united and coordinated. Specifically, they all find unity in His self-emptying for our salvation, descending to the depths in order to redeem us. His entire life is a downward trajectory, God descending in the person of Christ to raise man from his misery.

With this descent in mind, we can come to some understanding of His baptism by considering first its relation to His birth. This feast falls close to Christmas, to end the season. Our Lord’s birth and baptism were years apart, of course. But liturgically they are brought together, as bookends of Christmas, because they share a common purpose. And that commonality sheds light on the events at the Jordan. As Fulton Sheen puts it, “The object of His baptism was the same as the object of His birth, to identify with sinful humanity.” In Bethlehem we encounter Him born as one of us. At the Jordan we encounter Him freely choosing to be identified with us sinners.

We understand His baptism also in light of what lay ahead: His Passion and death. In response to John the Baptist’s resistance Jesus says, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3:15). This “righteousness” is that right relationship between God and man that the Redeemer brings. We are restored to righteousness not by our own knowledge, not by our own efforts, not even by John’s baptism for repentance, but by Jesus’ coming into the world and taking all sin upon Himself — by His submission to John in baptism. Our Lord’s descent into the water expresses His assumption of our guilt and anticipates His death, burial and descent into hell (the lowest point of the downward trajectory). The waters of the Jordan that covered Him have been described as a “liquid tomb,” thus indicating the unity of His baptism and His Passion.

So Jesus’ baptism is of a piece in the downward trend of the Incarnation. He descends to earth at His birth, and He keeps descending. From humble origins in Bethlehem, to ignominious exile in Egypt; from subordination to Joseph and Mary in Nazareth, to submission to John at the Jordan; from association “with tax collectors and sinners,” to rejection by His own people; from crucifixion with common criminals to burial in a stranger’s tomb — His life is (to use J.R.R. Tolkien’s line) one long defeat that ends in victory. One long descent that ends in ascension.

His baptism prompts us to think of our own. Just as His was not an isolated event but set the trajectory of His public life, so also ours must bring unity and purpose to our entire life. Baptism is not only the beginning of Christian life but also the pattern of it. Yes, we believe in “one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.” But that does not mean that we leave our baptism in the baptistery, any more than Our Lord left His at the Jordan. Our dying and rising is constant and continual. Each day we die — to our selfish desires, to our pride, to the world’s temptations — so that we can rise in being united with Him. Only if we are willing to descend into the waters with Him — not once but daily — will we be able to rise from them with Him as well.

Fr. Scalia is Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde’s delegate for clergy.


Archdiocese of Washington

The Bountiful Blessings of Baptism

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a moment to reflect not only on the Lord’s baptism, but also on our own. For in an extended sense, when Christ is baptized, so are we, for we are members of his body. As Christ enters the water, he makes holy the water that will baptize us. He enters the water and we who are members of his Body go with him. And in these waters he acquires gifts to give us, as we shall see below.

Let’s examine this text in three stages:

  1. The Fraternity of Baptism – The text says Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. John tried to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?”

John is surely puzzled about Jesus requesting baptism. And likely so are we. Why? John’s baptism of repentance presumes the presence of sin. But the scriptures are clear, Jesus had no sin.

  1. For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15 ).
  2. You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin (1 John 3:5 ).

So why does Jesus ask for baptism? He will answer this in a moment.

But first let’s consider this dramatic fact: Jesus identifies with sinners, even if he never sinned. As he comes to the riverside he has no ego concerns. He is not embarrassed or ashamed that some might think him a sinner even though he was not. It is a remarkable humiliation he accepts to be found in the company of sinners like us, and even to be seen as one of us. He freely enters the waters and, to any outsider who knew him not, he would simply be numbered among the sinners, which he was not.

Consider how amazing this is. The Scripture says He is not ashamed to call us his Brethren (Heb 2:11). It also says God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).

Jesus ate with sinners to the scandal of many of the religious leaders: -This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!” (Lk 15:2). Jesus was known as a friend of sinners, had pity on the woman caught in adultery, allowed a sinful woman to touch him and anoint his feet. He cast out demons and fought for sinners. He suffered and died for sinners in the way reserved for the worst criminals. He was crucified between two thieves and He was assigned a grave among the wicked (Is 53).

Praise God, Jesus is not ashamed to be found in our presence and to share a brotherhood with us. There is a great shedding of his glory in doing this. Again, Scripture says, [Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself (Phil 1:3)

  1. The Fulfillment of Baptism – The text says: Jesus said to [John] in reply, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him.

The Fathers of the Church are of varying opinions as exactly what Christ means by fulfilling all righteousness.

  1. Chromatius links the righteousness to all the sacraments and the salvation they confer: “This is true righteousness, that the Lord and Master should fulfill in himself every sacrament of our salvation. Therefore the Lord did not want to be baptized for his own sake but for ours” (tractate on Matthew 13.2)
  2. Chrysostom links it to the end and fulfillment of the Old Covenant: He is in effect saying, Since then we have performed all the rest of the commandments, this Baptism alone remains. I have come to do away with the curse that is appointed for the transgression of the Law. So I must therefore fulfill it all and, having delivered you from its condemnation, bringing it to an end. (Homily on Matt 12.1)
  3. Theodore of Mopsuestia sees Christ to mean that he is perfecting John’s Baptism which was only a symbol of the true Baptism. The Baptism of John…was perfect according to the precept of Law, but it was imperfect in that it did not supply remission of sin but merely made people fit of receiving the perfect one….And Jesus makes this clear saying, ‘For thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ (Fragment 13).

From another perspective, the word “righteousness” refers, biblically, to God’s fidelity to his promises. Thus, is this sense, Jesus would mean that his baptism would be the sign of the fulfillment of God’s righteous promise of salvation. God had promised this and God is faithful to his promises. Jesus’ baptism indicates this. How?

St. Maximus of Turin speaks of the Old Testament prefigurement of baptism at the Red sea and then shows how Christ fulfills it:

I understand the mystery as this. The column of fire went before the sons of Israel through the Red Sea so that they could follow on their brave journey; the column went first through the waters to prepare a path for those who followed……But Christ the Lord does all these things: in the column of fire He went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now in the column of his body he goes through baptism before the Christian people….At the time of the Exodus the column…made a pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism. (de sancta Epiphania 1.3)

So what God promised in the in the Old Testament by way of prefigurement he now fulfils in Christ. They were delivered from the slavery of Egypt as the column led them through the waters. But more wonderfully, we are delivered from the slavery to sin as the column of Christ’s body leads us through the waters of baptism. God’s righteousness is his fidelity to his promises. Hence Jesus says, in his baptism and all it signifies (his death and resurrection) he has come to fulfill all righteous and he thus fulfills the promises made by God at the Red Sea and throughout the Old Testament.

  1. The Four Gifts of Baptism – The Text says, After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.

Eph 5:30 says we are members of Christ’s body. Thus when Jesus goes into the water we go with him. And in going there he acquires four gifts on our behalf as this text sets them forth. Lets look at the four gifts he acquires on our behalf:

  1. Access the heavens are opened . The heavens and paradise had been closed to us after Original Sin. But now, at Jesus’ baptism, the text says the heavens are opened. Jesus acquires this gift for us. So, at our baptism, the heavens open for us and we have access to the Father and to the heavenly places. Scripture says: Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, (Romans 5:1) It also says, For through Jesus we have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph 2:17). Hence the heavens are opened also at our own Baptism and we have access to the Father.
  2. Anointing the Spirit of God descends on him like a dove – Here too, Jesus acquires the Gift of the Holy Spirit for us. In Baptism we are not just washed of sins, but we also become temples of the Holy Spirit. After baptism there is the anointing with chrism which signifies the presence of the Holy Spirit. For adults this is Confirmation. But even for infants, there is an anointing at baptism to recognize that the Spirit of God dwells in the baptized as in a temple. Scripture says, Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? (1 Cor 3:16)
  3. Acknowledgmentthis is my beloved Son. Jesus receives this acknowledgment from his Father for the faith of those who heard, but also to acquire this gift for us. In our own Baptism we become the children of God. Since we become members of Christ’s body, we now have the status of sons of God. On the day of your Baptism the heavenly Father acknowledged you as his own dear Child. Scripture says: You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Gal 3:26)
  4. ApprovalI am well pleased . Jesus had always pleased his Father. But now he acquires this gift for you as well. Our own Baptism gives us sanctifying grace. Sanctifying grace is the grace to be holy and pleasing to God. Scripture says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens, as he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Eph 1:1-3)

Thus, at his Baptism, Christ acquired these gifts for us so that our own Baptism we could receive them. Consider well the glorious gift of your Baptism. Perhaps you know the exact day. It should be a day as highly celebrated as your birthday. Christ is baptized for our sakes, not his own. All these gifts had always been his. Now, in his baptism he fulfills God’s righteousness by going into the water to get them for you. It’s alright to say, “Hallelujah!”


 

The Baptism of the Lord

[Illustration from the Book of Gospels – Midwest Theological Forum * ]
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Midwest Theological Forum

The Sunday in which we commemorate our Lord’s Baptism provides an opportunity for the entire family to discuss this sacrament. Children baptized as infants, of course, cannot remember their own baptisms, but they will love to be shown photographs of their Christenings and told of how this special day was celebrated. You may want to get out the baptismal gown or baptismal candle to give the children a visual reminder of their initiation into the Christian faith.

Christ’s Baptism – from the Catechism of the Catholic Church
1223 –
All the Old Covenant prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus. He begins his public life after having himself baptized by Saint John the Baptist in the Jordan. After His resurrection Christ gives this mission to His apostles: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

1224 – Our Lord voluntarily submitted Himself to the baptism of Saint John, intended for sinners, in order to “fulfill all righteousness”. Jesus’ gesture is a manifestation of His self-emptying. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as His “beloved Son.”

1225 – In His Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of His Passion, which He was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a “Baptism” with which He had to be baptized. The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life. From then on, it is possible “to be born of water and the Spirit” in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

See where you are baptized, see where Baptism comes from, if not from the cross of Christ, from His death. There is the whole mystery: He died for you. In Him you are redeemed, in Him you are saved.

For more from the Catechism go to the Links page.

From the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

  1. Closely connected with the salvific events of the Epiphany are the mysteries of the Baptism of the Lord and the manifestation of His glory at the marriage feast of Cana.

Christmastide closes with the Baptism of the Lord. Only in recent times has the feast been rehabilitated, and hence has not given rise to any particular displays of popular piety. However, the feast presents an excellent opportunity for the faithful to be reminded of their rebirth as children of God in Baptism. The rite of asperges could be opportunely used at all Masses on this day, and homilies could well concentrate on the symbols associated with Baptism.

Mass in the Sistine Chapel and Administration of the Sacrament of Baptism, Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday, 11 January 2009

Mass in the Sistine Chapel and Administration of the Sacrament of Baptism, Homily of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday, January 13, 2008

Readings for the Baptism of Christ

Collect:
Almighty ever-living God,
who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan
and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,
solemnly declared him your beloved Son,
grant that your children by adoption,
reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,
may always be well pleasing to you.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

or

O God, whose Only Begotten Son
has appeared in our very flesh,
grant, we pray, that we may be inwardly transformed
through him whom we recognize as outwardly like ourselves,
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

Years A, B and C

First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7

Behold My servant, whom I uphold, My chosen, in whom My soul delights; I have put My Spirit upon Him, He will bring forth justice to the nations.

He will not cry or lift up His voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not quench; He will faithfully bring forth justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for His law…. “I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I have taken You by the hand and kept You; I have given You as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.

OR
Year B Isaiah 55:1-11
“Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness. Incline your ear, and come to Me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, My steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. Behold, you shall call nations that you know not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for He has glorified you.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have mercy on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

Year C Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Comfort, comfort My people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and His arm rules for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him. He will feed His flock like a shepherd, He will gather the lambs in His arms, He will carry them in His bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

Years A, B and C
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-38

And Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. You know the word which He sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all), the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.

OR
Year B 1 John 5:1-9
Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God, and every one who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world but He who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is He who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth. There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that He has borne witness to His Son.

Year C Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for Himself a people of His own who are zealous for good deeds.

When the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of deeds done by us in righteousness, but in virtue of His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.

Year A
Gospel Reading: Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on Him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Year B
Gospel Reading: Mark 1:7-11
John preached, saying, “After me comes He who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately He saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”

Year C

Gospel Reading: Luke 3:15-16,21-22
As the people were in expectation, and all men questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he were the Christ, John answered them all, “I baptize you with water; but He who is mightier than I is coming, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, “Thou art My beloved Son; with Thee I am well pleased.”

[Revised Standard Version – Catholic Edition (Ignatius Press)]


Baptism of the Lord: Jesus Embraces Us

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-yqYJJ2R6VZQ/UtG8INWGOLI/AAAAAAAAHPo/Ax0QDeYbP4M/s1600/Baptism-of-Christ-Ottavio-Vannini-1640%5B1%5D.jpg

(The Baptism of Christ – Vannini, 1642)

 

“Allow it for now . . . This is my beloved Son . . .”

 

The Word for Sunday: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011214.cfm

Is 42: 1-4, 6-7
Acts 10: 34-38
Mt 3: 13-17

Did you ever admire someone so much that you wanted to constantly imitate them? We may see this more often in children who look up to their bigger brother or sister. Or it could be among sports athletes whose abilities on the field or the court are so extraordinary that younger aspiring athletes study their every move and imitate their honed skills.  In the end, such positive role models can do much good for others.

 

In this Sunday’s Feast of the Lord’s Baptism we find someone who so admired another that he wanted to fully identify with them.  No, it isn’t John wanting to copy Jesus but rather Jesus himself who, out of divine love, seeks to fully identify with us! Every time we hear the story of Jesus’ baptism by John, we may ask the question: “Why did Jesus submit to the baptism of repentance that John was preaching in the desert?” If we say Jesus was without sin why would he seek to be baptized, to repent and be forgiven of sin? Maybe he was more fully human than we realize.

That argument was a conversation by early Christians but the baptism of Jesus, found in all four Gospels, was an event of identification.  That is, as he began his public mission, Jesus in submitting to the baptism of repentance by John, was not admitting to his own personal sin but rather to ours. John himself knew this: “I need to be baptized by you and yet you are coming to me.” For the Gospel writers it was essential to establish the superiority of Jesus over John but it seems there was far more.

The prevailing explanation of scripture scholars and theologians explains it this way. We assume that sin is a normal part of being human.  “Nobody is perfect,” we say. Yet, the scriptures remind us (Genesis) that God created human beings not to be sinful but to live in perfect obedience, without sin if we can imagine such a life. Jesus, fully human except for sin, is God in the flesh come among us – the Spirit of God descends like a dove to hover over Jesus after his baptism and we hear “a voice from the heavens saying ‘This is my Son with whom I am well pleased.’”

In his baptism, Jesus embraces the human condition fully and takes upon himself our guilt and sin which then reminds us the way to heal a relationship broken by sin between God and humanity is to be cleansed in the waters of baptism and to seek Christ as our hope for constant reconciliation.  God has identified fully with the human condition but reminds us that sin is not a part of it. The sinless one identifies with the guilty. Water and Spirit not only restore us to right relationship with God but we become ambassadors of Jesus, sends out as “missionary disciples” to share in the mission which Jesus began.

As Pope Francis in his recent Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, reminds us: “In all the baptized, from first to last, the sanctifying power of the Spirit is at work, impelling us to evangelization . . . In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples (Mt. 28:19). All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization . . . The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized . . .” (EG: 119, 120)

Granted, all this is much to chew on. It may not be a constant thought we hold each day but each time we recall this event we are reminded of the mystery that God has worked in us and the seeds of faith planted at the moment of our baptism. And mystery it is indeed as are all the sacraments of our Church.

God’s invisible grace poured into us at baptism did not change us physically.  We still look the same, speak the same, and have all of our various quirks. Babies continue to cry, soil their diapers, and babble on in spite of their baptism.

But baptism does affect an interior spiritual change; a mystery of God’s grace.  The outward signs of water, oil, and fire symbolize what we cannot see – a spiritual cleansing an anointing (a being set apart and marked for Christ) and the fire of the Spirit of God which descends on us. We are changed profoundly by God’s grace and made his adopted children through these waters.  As I recently heard someone put it well: “God signs the adoption papers.”

The mission is for all to hear.  As St. Peter from our second reading today reminds us: “I see that God shows no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him . . .”

A baptismal song puts it this way: “In waters we are sent to be the heart and hands of Christ.”

Ok all you fellow missionaries!  Let’s pray that our lives will always be an example to others. What a privilege we have and what a responsibility.

 

Almighty ever-living God

who, when Christ had been baptized in the River Jordan

and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him,

solemnly declared him your beloved Son,

grant that your children by adoption,

reborn of water and the Holy Spirit,

may always be well pleasing to you.

(Collect of Sunday Mass)

Fr. Tim

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January 13
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