The Baptism of the Lord – Sunday Jan. 10, 2021

The Baptism of the Lord

Today we celebrate the feast of the baptism of the Lord. We hear in today’s Gospel how John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the river Jordan.

Jesus is God born as man. He is without sin. So it begs the question why would Jesus need to be baptized?

This question has been asked for centuries. Why would Jesus be baptized? We need to look at a number of things that are always present with Jesus. First of all Jesus is God. When Jesus enters our world or shares our experience, He transforms the world and transforms the experience.

The Jewish faith community had a long-standing tradition of baptism. This was an atonement for one’s sins before God. Water was used because it is easy to understand the cleansing effect.

This is still our understanding of a key element to the experience of baptism. However once Jesus was baptized He transformed the Jewish baptism into something new. It is now not only acknowledgment and atonement for one’s sins, but a new birth spiritually in one’s relationship with God. It is an identity bestowed upon the one baptized. It is belonging to the family of God through Jesus the Christ. As we hear in today’s reading from the letter of Saint John it is not by water alone, but by water and blood. This means that through our baptism, we are forgiven our sins through the blood of the Cross. The two are connected. This is what Jesus does for us. This is Jesus transforming the Jewish baptism into the vehicle by which we enter a state of grace and receive all forgiveness. Grace is given and granted by the sacrifice of His Cross.

Our baptism is a moment when we or those who loved us (those who had charge of our well being when we were a child -namely and most likely our parents) spoke for us and said YES to being a disciple of Christ. YES to being a member of God’s family. In today’s Gospel, God proclaims the identity of Jesus, “This is my Beloved Son.” Our baptism is a proclamation of our identity – we are those who belong to God through Jesus Christ.

This is an identity that we live out through out our lives and into eternity. It is an ongoing relationship of children to our heavenly Father. And Saint John again reminds us that we follow the ways of our God. We obey his commandments. These are not rules of dominion and suppression. These are truths about ourselves that help us live in a state of grace. Do we continue to say yes to belonging to God and to following His ways?

Our first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah tells us of the relationship we have with our God. Our God is tender and gentle with us, like a loving father with his children. A bruised reed He will not break, a smoldering wick He will not quench. When we are hurting and bruised by life God will be gentle with us. When we are barely holding on to our faith like a smoldering wick, God will be gentle with us.

The baptism of the Lord calls to mind how God continues to transform our lives. Do you allow God to transform your life? Do you awake and arise each day with the thought that because you are baptized, because you belong to Christ, because you are a member of God’s family – that will impact what you say and what you do. It will have a transformative affect on your words. It will change how you speak and even what you say. It will transform your spirit.

An example is when someone frustrates you, irritates you, angers you – naturally you may want to speak words that are harsh or that cause injury to relationships. You may want to hurt the other person‘s feelings because they have done some thing you don’t like. However with a moment of prayer and pause, we can recall who we are. We can recall that we are the baptized that belong to Jesus the Christ. We can ask Jesus to transform the moment for us. And with His grace perhaps a moment of anger or impatience becomes a moment of tolerance and peace. Perhaps we speak with tender gentle words instead of harsh cutting tongues.

Today let us all consider how we truly allow our baptism two continue to form, shape, mold us into who we are truly called and created to be. It requires our deliberate participation with the activity of God‘s Holy Spirit. Each day we can allow God to raise us up, to change and transform us. Let us be strong in the Lord. Each day we can say yes once again to belonging to Him,

First Reading
Is 42:1-4, 6-7 or Is 55:1-11

Behold my servant with whom I am well-pleased.

A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah

Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
   my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
   he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
   not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
   and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
   the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
   I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
   as a covenant of the people,
   a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
   to bring out prisoners from confinement,
   and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

The Word of the Lord…

Responsorial Psalm
Ps 72:1-2, 7-8, 10-11, 12-13

R. :

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
   give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
   adore the LORD in holy attire.

R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
   the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
   the voice of the LORD is majestic.

R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

The God of glory thunders,
   and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
   the LORD is enthroned as king forever.

R. The Lord will bless his people with peace.

1 Jn 5:1-9
The Spirit and the water and the blood.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint John

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
   and everyone who loves the Father
   loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
   when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
   that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
   for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
   but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
   not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
   and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
   the Spirit, the water, and the blood,
   and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
   the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
   that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

The Word of the Lord…

Gospel
Mk 1:7-11

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
   he will baptize you with the holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
   and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
   and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
   “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

At the end of the Gospel, the Deacon, or the Priest, acclaims:

The Gospel of the Lord.

2 thoughts on “The Baptism of the Lord – Sunday Jan. 10, 2021

  1. Great stuff. I will share with my Catholic priest. I am from the Diocese of Rockford. Too many Catholics have dismissed our faith in these COVID times. Thank you for these blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So good to see this message Father Andrew! I will always call you that since you were my former pastor and priest. Thank you Father Hougan! We miss you in the Diocese of Rockford. God bless your new ministry. Thanks for helping my Catholic faith.

    Liked by 1 person

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