Sunday, January 10, 2021

Baptism of the Lord - Jesus Leads by Example

Today is the Baptism of the Lord.  The festive Christmas season is officially over and we begin to enter into the ministry of Christ as He preached and worked miracles.  There are two options for the first reading from Isaiah. The first option reading from Isaiah tells us that God's servant or His chosen one is someone He is pleased with.  This person will have God's spirit and will bring forth justice to the nations.  He will do so in peace and quiet, not "crying out, not shouting." This is of course referring to Jesus who is the Messiah. 

Despite Jesus being a great speaker, He remained silent on some occasions (Matthew 26:63Matthew 27:12-14).  This "silence" would be heard loud and clear throughout time as the faith spread throughout the world.  Silence is key in our spiritual lives.  It is in silence that we hear God speak to us. This is why I often stress that people be silent in the church. There should not be any talking in the church unless there is an emergency or an important message must be vocalized.  The church should be quiet as we sit or kneel before the Lord in the tabernacle.  The second option tells us that God is the one who gives us to drink and to eat.  He is the one that comforts us and takes on our burden. This again is referring to Christ who provides for us and helps us with our burdens (Matthew 11:28).  As this reading tells us, we must seek Him while He may be found.  Our time to seek salvation in Christ is limited. He gives us ample time to reform ourselves into the image of God.

The responsorial Psalm responds to the first reading with the words that God will bless His people. Peace is something we all look for in the world and in life. Unfortunately, it is not easy to come by. Today we see war, genocide, terrorism, etc.  It seems to be rampant; no end in sight. However, God is the one who gives us peace (Psalm 29:11, 1 Corinthians 14:33).  This is the peace we truly need now dring this alleged covid-19 coronavirus which has taken the lives of many around the world.  Despite several vaccines in existence, the virus continues to spread and has even mutated to become more contagious and virile. We truly need some peace during these trying times. Let me not get into the situation with the election in the United States and the horrendous domestic terrorism against the Us Capitol building. God will give us peace. However, we must ask for it. God respects our free will.

As with the first reading, we also have two options with the second.  The first option is from Acts and shows how Peter, the first Pope took leadership and spoke to the gathered in the house of Cornelius. Peter reminds us that God is not prejudiced.  He shows no partiality, as the text states.  God opens Himself to all people because we are all His children. This message must be told today more than ever where there are so many claims of discrimination, prejudice, sexism, and racism.  Everything is being seen in the kaleidoscope of race and alleged privilege.  This is not what God is about. We are all His children and that makes us brothers and sisters regardless of how we look. The second option tells us that believing in Christ is important.  In Christ, we see the Father (John 14:9-11). Christ is the link between humanity and God; between the creature and the Creator.

Finally, in the Gospel, we read about John the Baptist telling everyone gathered that one is coming after him who is mightier and who he is unworthy to loosen his straps on his sandals. He was of course referring to Jesus who happened to approach and seek Baptism. Why would Christ ask to be Baptized?  He has no sin yet sought it. There are many answers to this but the one that stands out to me the most is that He wanted to be part of us. By getting Baptized, Jesus gave us a "demo" of how to start the spiritual life. His Baptism opened up the doors of grace to the primitive Sacrament John used with simple water.  When Jesus entered the river Jordan, His presence sanctified the waters.  As with the Wedding at Cana, the water in the jars was just water until Jesus got involved. John's Baptism was just a simple bath until Jesus came along and transformed it into an initiation rite that removes Original Sin and restores our relationship with God which was harmed at the fall of man. In this year of St. Joseph, we should reflect on our own baptism. We should think about what took place and the effects of this important Sacrament on our lives.  

Readings:  The Baptism of the Lord | USCCB

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