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?
Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 1:1-2; Luke 2:16-21
We return again to Bethlehem and the visit of the shepherds to meet their Savior. While much of the reading focuses on the shepherds, what they saw and said, today’s feast directs us to Mary, providing Pau’s only reference to her and a helpful image of her from Luke’s Gospel. In his most fiery letter, Paul notes that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…” On this feast celebrating Mary as the mother of God, Paul’s words provide the earliest designation of her as mother of God’s Son. God not only lowered himself to our human estate; he made himself, for a short time, subservient to Mary, his human mother. If Christ made himself subservient to Mary, how much more so should we be obedient to her as well?
Luke gives us a prayerful perspective on Mary, presenting her as the woman who ponders, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She is a fitting example to imitate as a new year begins. She invites us to ponder and reflect on who Christ is for us and for our world. We live in such a non-stop, 24/7, busy-busy-busy world. Mother Mary calls us to sit down beside her and ponder the mystery of the Father sending his Son into the world to give us life.
What does Mary invite you to ponder? When we serve her and follow her example, then we will begin to imitate Jesus Christ. It is then that we will grow stronger in our faith.
Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 89:4-5, 16-17, 27, 29 (R/.2a); Acts 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25 or 1:18-25
Readers often dread the long list of names in this Gospel. Name after name after name – strange names, foreign to us, flowing together in a litany evoking and ancient world. But if one takes time reading them, even proclaiming them, as if you were reading a roll call of one’s own ancestors, on begins to realize that each name is to be honored. Each is a son or a daughter (five interesting women are mentioned.) Each was part of Israel’s history, Jesus’ history, salvation history. God was at work in each of these lives.
Matthew’s genealogy also implies that Jesus did not come from a perfect family; but a family of sinners. That is not to say the Jesus or Mary were with sin; rather Jesus’ ancestors in the lines of Abraham and David, through fourteen generations after the Babylonia exile (560 years after the death of Amel-Marduk, the king of Babylon – in Jewish tradition, one generation was the equivalent of 40 years.) Like Jesus’ ancestors, we too are not perfect. We are sinners, and we welcome Jesus into our human family.
The story of Joseph concludes the genealogy with the angel’s command that Joseph name the child born of Mary and the Holy Spirit. The name to be given is Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins.” Tonight, we begin our Christmas celebration remembering that the Son of God, our Savior, was born into our human family.
What does it mean to you to have Jesus in your family and, by Baptism, to be in his?
Christmas is coming, along with many atheistic notions that the reason we celebrate Christmas on December 25th is so that it coincides with a Roman Pagan holiday. This, however, is not true.
Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus died was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar. March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception. Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.
Read on here for more…