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January 09, 2023

Baptism of the Lord

Mt 3: 3-17

This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 

Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. 

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, 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 it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

 

Understanding Our Vocations

Left with only a few second and third hand accounts of Jesus’ life written years after his death, what can we say we really know of his life? When reading today’s scripture, I remember my seminary professor telling us that of all the events recorded in the Gospels, most historians can agree on at least one thing: that a man named Jesus was indeed baptized by a man named John in early first century Galilee. The fact that the Savior, the Son of God, began his ministry by being baptized by a local preacher was in fact an embarrassment that needed to be explained. That every evangelist mentions the baptism, and attempts to explain away the seeming contradiction (“allow it for now…”), is in itself strong support for the fact that it occurred. It is the humanness of this event that captures my attention and my heart in prayer. Jesus’ baptism is a comforting reminder that Jesus was truly human and walked among us. His vocation does not seem to have been a magical gift he knew from infancy, but rather a growing insight and awareness. Perhaps he discovered his God-given gifts and life’s path as many of us do: through a gradual process of coming to know himself through prayer and in relationships with his family and community. In the midst of our impatience to figure out who we are and where we’re going on our life’s journey, today we remember we are in good company. Can you have patience with the ways God is revealing God’s gifts and plan to you… over time? Can you be truly thankful today for the insights and direction you have already received?  —Christine Curran is the executive director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a Jesuit ministry providing spiritual retreats and companionship to people in recovery from homelessness and addiction in 20+ cities.   

Prayer 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude


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January 09, 2023

Baptism of the Lord

Mt 3: 3-17

This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 

Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. 

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, 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 it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. 

And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

 

Understanding Our Vocations

Left with only a few second and third hand accounts of Jesus’ life written years after his death, what can we say we really know of his life? When reading today’s scripture, I remember my seminary professor telling us that of all the events recorded in the Gospels, most historians can agree on at least one thing: that a man named Jesus was indeed baptized by a man named John in early first century Galilee. The fact that the Savior, the Son of God, began his ministry by being baptized by a local preacher was in fact an embarrassment that needed to be explained. That every evangelist mentions the baptism, and attempts to explain away the seeming contradiction (“allow it for now…”), is in itself strong support for the fact that it occurred. It is the humanness of this event that captures my attention and my heart in prayer. Jesus’ baptism is a comforting reminder that Jesus was truly human and walked among us. His vocation does not seem to have been a magical gift he knew from infancy, but rather a growing insight and awareness. Perhaps he discovered his God-given gifts and life’s path as many of us do: through a gradual process of coming to know himself through prayer and in relationships with his family and community. In the midst of our impatience to figure out who we are and where we’re going on our life’s journey, today we remember we are in good company. Can you have patience with the ways God is revealing God’s gifts and plan to you… over time? Can you be truly thankful today for the insights and direction you have already received?  —Christine Curran is the executive director of the Ignatian Spirituality Project, a Jesuit ministry providing spiritual retreats and companionship to people in recovery from homelessness and addiction in 20+ cities.   

Prayer 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

—Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude


Please share the Good Word with your friends!

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