The Baptism Of Our Lord – Year A.
Commentary Theme for this Sunday:
“Jesus Begins His Public Life”.
The Father anointed his beloved Son, Jesus, with the Holy Spirit and with power, to bring peace and healing to all the nations.
The Word of God this Sunday invites all Christians to get ready to follow Jesus who is about to begins the journey that will take him to Death and Resurrection and if we so choose it will lead us to our salvation. If we die to ‘self and sin’ we will rise with Him.
The first reading describes the call, the gift of the Spirit and the mission of the “servant of the Lord”.
In the second reading the early Church is confronted with a thorny problem that caused divisions. Could baptism be administered to pagans? The Spirit enlightens Peter that in front of the Lord ‘all people are equal’.
The Gospel reading shows that Jesus is this faithful “Servant” of the Father. The heavens opened and the Father’s voice resounded: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him’.
It is recommended that the actual readings are first studied and then meditated upon with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to grant you the gift of ‘wisdom’ to understand the meaning of the messages of Love, Forgiveness and the Offer of Salvation that the Lord has for each one of us in the Holy Bible. These commentaries, which have been extracted and summarised for our meditation are from the published works of priests who have by their Divine inspiration become acclaimed scholars of the Scriptures and generally reflect the Church’s understanding of the readings. These commentaries are not meant to replace the Sunday Homily at Holy Mass but are provided as an additional guide to assist and further enhance our understanding of the Sunday Liturgical Readings. ‘Daily Reflections’ and a Prayer are included to enable us to ‘Live the Word’ during the week following the Sunday Mass. We will begin to understand the meaning of gratuitous love and our life’s true purpose. Through His Word we will follow the Light to help fulfil the mission that has been given to each one of us by our Creator.
“In the Old Testament the ‘New’ is hidden. In the New Testament the ‘Old’ is laid open”.
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7. Worldly oppression in every age has its ‘freedom’ fighters – heroic men and woman who recognize exploitation for what it is and try to do something about it. Foremost among these fighters are the God-inspired prophets of old and, and above all, “the prophet” whom God sent to be the ultimate champion of all the exploited: ‘His own Son’. “The servant of Yahweh” is a mysterious figure appearing in the second part of the book of Isaiah and it is given this name by the author. We are first of all told about his ‘call’. God chose him because he was pleased with him. He was endowed with the force of the Lord and his Spirit because he was entrusted with a great and difficult mission. The reading then describes the work that this servant is expected to accomplish: he is to bring true justice to the nations. This does not mean he will impose a harsh law on humankind, but
he will spread the knowledge of God and God’s message of love throughout the world. He will not behave like the powerful among people: he will not shout, he will not raise his voice in the streets, he will not destroy what is already falling down, but will try to recover and repair it; difficulties will not deter him and he will fulfil and accomplish in full what he has been sent to do. Isaiah encourages the Jewish exiles in Babylon with these words: “Here is my servant, whom I uphold…. I have put my Spirit upon him: He will bring forth justice to the nations…. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth.”
The story on the “Servant of God” was written and inserted in the book of Isaiah about 500 years before the birth of Christ. We do not know who the actual person was the prophet was referring to, but we are quite sure that Jesus accomplished the whole of the prophecy about this faithful “servant” of God. Almost all the verses of this reading are quoted in the Gospel and applied to Jesus (cf. Mt 3:17, 12:18-21; 17:5). Biblical scholars have not come up with a final answer to this question yet and, indeed, such an answer is not really important. The important thing is that the early Christians identified this “Servant of Yahweh” with Christ.
As Christians we all called to be ‘freedom’ fighters; that is to oppose all forms of exploitation and to work tirelessly for justice, peace and the truth.
Psalm 29:1-4. 9-10. The Psalm may be an adaptation by Israel of a foreign hymn to the god of thunder. The voice of the Lord upon the waters prepares us for the voice from heaven in the Gospel. Acts 10:34-38. In the second reading Peter says, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” He adds, “You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ – he is Lord of all.” And Jesus Christ, Peter says, “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him”. This is part of Peter’s speech in the house of Cornelius in Caesarea. The early Church was confronted with a very thorny problem that caused divisions. Could baptism be administered to the pagans? Peter was at first against it, but later was enlightened by the Spirit, he understood now that in front of the Lord all people are equal. There are no pure or impure persons. All who believe and who practice charity, whatever their origin or race are acceptable to him. Matthew 3:13-17. Evil is, and has always been, the root cause of all exploitation. In Jesus, however, it has more than met its match. For, as the Gospel explains, Jesus is the one whom God had promised to send in order to end all exploitation. Jesus went to John for baptism, thus showing solidarity with the past of Israel. At his baptism, “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.’ ” On the day of his baptism, Jesus received this consecration and authority to fulfil his difficult mission of liberation. Israel had been without ‘men of God’ for a long time. The last recognised prophet had died over 300 years before. The heavens were really closed as if God did not want to speak any longer to his people. The Spirit of the Lord did not come down any more on anybody, it was just like a dove flying in the air and finding no worthy person on which to rest. God reveals himself at Jesus’ baptism as the Father who sends his Beloved Son and empowers him with his Spirit. Jesus is God’s ‘Chosen One’ who brings true justice to all nations. Baptism is a very important moment, a turning point in the life of Jesus. He experiences a deep personal experience of God’s love for him and receives his mission to proclaim openly the ‘Good News’ in his name as God’s Son. He will not do this through power, but in all humility as God’s chosen servant (Is 42:1-4). God reaffirms his choice during the ‘Transfiguration’ as Jesus sets out for Jerusalem, the final stage of his mission (Mt 26:47-68). Why does Jesus, the ‘sinless’ One, join the line of sinners? Why does the Messiah undergo a ritual baptism of preparation for his mission? Jesus want to express his solidarity and oneness with sinful human beings to open for them a way to new life (Ph 2:6-11). By joining the line of sinners he also shows that sin is not part and parcel of human nature but rather a deformation of the image of God in which we, like Jesus, are all created (Gn 1:26; Col 1:15-16). As the saying goes, you cannot save someone from drowning by standing on the shore and looking on. To save the person you have to jump into the sea and get wet. Jesus, as it were, jumped into the mess and chaos of our sins to save us from being swallowed up by the waters of death. Our baptism is also the precise moment that God enters our lives here on earth and makes us understand the depth of his love for us formally accepting us into his family. In baptism, we commit ourselves to live in a new way in the justice and love of God. As children of the Father who does not discriminate (Mt 5:43-48) we need to actively oppose any form of discrimination against the poor or those of other races or religions. Through our baptism we are called to reach out to help the poor, enabling them to join more fully in the pilgrimage of God as we look forward to attaining the ultimate freedom that only God can give. Praying for those in need is good, but it is not enough! We have to get our hands and our clothing dirty through hard toil to bring about justice and to take care of God’s creation.
Jesus is God’s chosen one who brings true justice to all nations. His Holy Spirit makes us acceptable to God when we fear God and do what is right.
‘Acknowledgement and Thanks’ to ‘Recommended Source Material’ by:
Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk, Fr. Fernando Armellini SCI, Peter Edmonds SJ, Richard Baawobr M.Afr, Joseph A. Slattery Ph.D, Adelmo Spagnolo MCCJ, Silvester O’Flynn OFM Cap, J.E. Spicer CSsR, John R. Donahue SJ and Alice Camille – Master’s degree in Divinity.
Reflections for each day this Week:
Almighty God and Father, on the … of the week following the
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year A, we reflect on …
Sun. … Where is our life’s journey leading us? Is the ‘way’ we live our lives leading us to the ‘New Jerusalem’ or to the place of ‘false promises and hopes’ and to final damnation? Believe it or not, we make that choice each and every day, sometimes without really thinking about it. Mon. … God is constantly calling us ‘his people’ to make his path straight across the trackless desert of the many obstacles that separate us from him and the salvation that he has prepared for us. What are we doing to facilitate this process? Tue. … Many of these obstacles are well disguised as special treasures in our lives such as: ‘worldly success’, ‘self-assertion’ and ‘total independence’, which we believe we have worked hard to achieve as a self-made person. Have these lifetime goals become idols of self-worship that glorify us and not God? Wed. … The ‘Cornelius’ incident in Acts, enabled Peter to grasp that God’s salvific plan extended to all peoples. God’s gratuitous love embraces all people. In Baptism the Holy Spirit anoints us all. In front of God we are all equal, in Baptism we become brothers and sisters in Christ. Why then do we continuously create divisions in our communities based on our selfish worldly values? Thur. … Righteousness for John the Baptist meant punishment of the sinner, but for Jesus it meant coming down to pick up us in love with new hope and forgiveness. What does righteousness mean to us? Does it give us the right to judge others as inferior to ourselves? Frid. … The Baptism of Jesus is the model of our Baptism. The Father loves us as his beloved children. The Son, in mercy, enters the rivers of humanity to rescue the sinner. The Holy Spirit, dove of Peace, rests on the soul in a constant divine presence of love. Sat. … The Baptism of Jesus sets him up for his mission. Awareness of what our Baptism means will set us up for our mission too. The graces we receive at Baptism has to be fanned into flame. It is in the sharing our faith and love with others that our lives grow spiritually and bear abundant fruit. In giving love we shall receive love abundantly.
Prayer after the Daily Reflection.
Father, help us to fully understand our Christian responsibilities we have accepted at our Baptism. May we too have the graces and strength from Your Spirit to carry out the mission of spreading the ‘Good News’ by ‘word and by deed’ You have given us, to proclaim to all who are lost and cannot find the ‘way’ past the obstacles of pride and sin.
This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.
Compliments: Bible Discussion Group.
Our Lady of the Wayside, Maryvale.
“Discovering the Truth through God’s living Word”.