Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 (R/. 11b); Acts 10:34-38; cf Mark 9:7; Matthew 3:13-17
Today, the Christmas season comes to a close with another epiphany of Jesus as God’s beloved Son. The importance of Jesus’ baptism is underlined in that the first three Gospels directly describe it, and John’s Gospel mentions it as having already happened. Why did Jesus need to be baptized? John the Baptist asks this himself in Matthew’s account. Jesus responds by saying, “To fulfill all righteousness.” Scholars interpret this remark as showing Jesus’ solidarity with sinners, those for whom he had been sent, even though he himself did not sin.
The central moment occurs when Jesus is coming out of the water. The Holy Spirit descends upon him, and, in Matthew only, the Father announces, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” More than a public service announcement for those present then, it proclaims to us now, Jesus is the Son of the Father.
He will go from this event to be tempted in the desert, and then into his ministry of preaching, teaching, healing, and casting our demons. As we return to Ordinary Time, consider what tasks God has given to us.
Do you see your Baptism as rooting you in a life of service?
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8 (R/. 4); Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23; John 14:23-29
To paraphrase Groucho Marx, “I don’t ever want to be in a club that would let someone like me be a member.” However, the opposite is usually the case. We do not want to belong to any club that would have anyone different from us as a member. The Church is one group meant to have the welcome mat out for everyone, if it is living out its calling. Of course, membership in the Church has its requirements. Baptism brings us into a community of faith given expression in its creed, ritual practices, and governance. Nevertheless, out knowledge of what is essential has developed over the centuries. Thank God for the Holy Spirit, who continues to guide us.
Today, we remember the direct connection between Jesus and the Spirit, “The Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.” The Holy Spirit continues to help us to “keep Jesus’ words” so that Jesus and the Father come to us and make their dwelling in us. The Holy Spirit is always at work to bring us into ever-deeper communion with the Trinity.
How have you experienced the Holy Spirit?
Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15; Psalm 103: 1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Matthew 4:17; Luke 13: 1-9
Carpe diem! (Seize the day!) was the Latin saying I learned in high school. It called us to be open to the opportunities life brings – for doing good, for making the world a better place, for enjoying the day’s blessings.
Moses heard a voice from a burning bush telling him to go down to Egypt. He was given a brief introduction to God and a call to help free the Hebrew slaves. Moses seized the day, obeying the call to act, now.
Jesus calls on his fellow Jews to seize the day by repenting. Life is short. People die tragically and unexpectedly. Look to your own life, Jesus tells them. God has given you these days, so bear fruit, now.
Paul calls on the Corinthians to seize the day. Not just our actions but even our desires can mislead us. So do not be complacent. Take care, now. Baptism lays a foundation, but we have to build on it. Baptism gives us the Spirit and the virtues of faith, hope, and love. We renew our baptismal promises in a few weeks. Act now; seize the day to grow closer to God.
What opportunity does this day offer you?