Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C

Today we celebrate the end of the Christmas season, and that may make you ask yourself why we would celebrate it, especially when Christmas “ended” a while ago. In today’s readings God himself celebrates what is taking place in the Gospel: John the Baptist baptizes Jesus in the river Jordan.

In today’s First Reading the Lord speaks of Jesus as his servant who is about to begin something wonderful: his public life. He’s going to bring justice to the world, be a light for the nations, open the eyes of the blind, and free prisoners, and God is keeping his promise through Jesus’ mission on earth. In short, God is sending out the Savior today to get to work. During Christmas we celebrated the birth of the Savior. On today’s feast, the Baptism of the Lord, we’re celebrating him finishing his silent years in Nazareth and going out to preach salvation to the world.

In today’s Second Reading Peter rejoices that salvation is not just for the people of Israel, but for everyone who respects God and acts uprightly. When Jesus is baptized in the Jordan he institutes a new kind of baptism. John talks about that baptism in the Gospel today as different from his: it is a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter is speaking to Cornelius, who was the first non-Jew to be baptized in Church history. The Jews thought originally that the Savior would only come for the Jews, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter and the Church through Cornelius’ situation that the Savior was coming for every nation that “fears God” (respects God) and “acts uprightly” (acts in a good way). The Holy Spirit always works gradually. Cornelius had heard about Jesus and his promise of salvation and had been praying for a sign. Peter was praying too, and they didn’t know each other at all. An angel came to Cornelius and told him to send men to find and bring Peter. Cornelius was a Roman centurion, and since he wasn’t a Jew, Peter wouldn’t have visited him unless the Holy Spirit had said it was okay in a dream, because Jews didn’t enter the homes of non-Jews.

As Peter in today’s Second Reading rejoices that the Savior has come for everyone, he recalls Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan, recalled in today’s Gospel, as the beginning of doing good and healing all those who were oppressed by the devil. Our Lord’s public ministry began with his baptism in the Jordan, so we celebrate today with God, with Peter, with Cornelius, and with everyone who has become Christian since through the waters of baptism. We celebrate that Jesus began to go out and do good, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and free those who are imprisoned by sin. We also celebrate baptism today. Church Fathers and Doctors have said Our Lord sanctified the waters for baptism even as he took the plunge into the waters of the Jordan to receive John’s. In remembering Our Lord’s baptism we remember our own with gratitude.

In today’s Gospel the Father says Jesus is his beloved son and he is well pleased with him. When you received baptism Our Lord was pleased with you too. For many of us that was a long time ago. It begs the question: am I still pleasing the Lord? We seek approval from those we love, and who loves us more than Our Lord? Make an extra effort this week to live in a way that is pleasing to Our Lord. That’s the best way to show your appreciation for the gift of baptism.

Readings: Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7; Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10; Acts 10:34–38; Luke 3:15–16, 21–22. See also The Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C (1st Sunday in Ordinary Time).

Baptism of the Lord, Cycle B

Today is the end of the Christmas season. God himself is celebrating what is taking place in the Gospel: the Baptism of his Son in the river Jordan at the hands of St. John the Baptist.

In the First Reading, God speaks of Jesus as his servant who is about to begin something wonderful: his public life. He’s going to bring justice to the world, be a light for the nations, open the eyes of the blind, and free prisoners. God is keeping his promise through Jesus’ mission on earth: God is sending out the Savior today to get to work. During Christmas we celebrated the birth of the Savior. On today’s feast, the Baptism of the Lord, we’re celebrating him finishing his silent years in Nazareth and going out to preach salvation to the world.

In the Second Reading St. Peter rejoices that salvation is not just for the people of Israel, but for everyone who respects God and acts uprightly. When Jesus is baptized in the Jordan, he institutes a new kind of baptism. John talks about that baptism in the Gospel today as different from his: it is a baptism of the Holy Spirit. St. Peter in the Second Reading is speaking to Cornelius, who was the first non-Jew to be baptized in the history of the Church. The Jews thought originally that the Savior would only come for the Jews. But then the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter and the Church through Cornelius’ situation that the Savior was coming for everyone who feared God (respected God) and acted uprightly (acted in a good way).

The Holy Spirit always works little by little. Cornelius had heard about Jesus and his promise of salvation, and had been praying for a sign. Peter was praying too, and they didn’t know each other at all. Then an angel came to Cornelius and told him to send men to find and bring Peter. Cornelius was a Roman centurion, and since he wasn’t a Jew, Peter wouldn’t have visited him unless the Holy Spirit had said it was okay in a dream, since the Jews didn’t enter the houses of non-Jews. As Peter rejoices that the Savior has come for everyone, he recalls Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan as the beginning of doing good and healing all those who were oppressed by the devil.

So we celebrate today with God, with Peter, with Cornelius, and with everyone who has become Christian since. We celebrate that Jesus began to go out and do good, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and free those who are imprisoned by sin.

So as we begin a new year, and the Christmas season draws to an end, Jesus’ private and public life show us it is time for us to get to work as well. In the Christmas season we’ve spent more time at home, resting, being with family and friends, receiving so many gifts, and getting ready to live the New Year better. It’s not a time for gloom and doom as we return to work, to school, to the daily grind: it’s time to show Our Lord we appreciate all He’s given us over the last year, and all He’s given us during the Christmas season. It’s time for us to get to work and get the word out about salvation. Cornelius heard about salvation from someone, long before he met St. Peter, and there are lots of Cornelius’ out there who are looking for what our faith has to offer. They are hungry for God.

Let’s thank Our Lord for the Christmas Season and the New Year that has just begun. Let’s keep moving forward on those New Year’s resolutions as a way to show gratitude to Our Lord for all the blessings He has poured out on us. Let’s pray for those who are suffering from hunger and war, so that they too can be blessed. Let’s pray for all those Cornelius’ out there to find and love God, to do good, and to find salvation.

Readings: Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7; Acts 10:34-38; Mark 1:7–11.

Baptism of the Lord, Cycle A

The Gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew recount the Baptism of Our Lord in the Jordan, but only in Matthew’s account, which we hear in today’s liturgy, does John the Baptist seem taken aback by the fact that Jesus is requesting baptism from the one who should be baptized by him. John is baptizing sinners, and he knows Our Lord is not a sinner, so why does he need baptism? Through this gesture Our Lord is expressing his solidarity with sinners; we know he will take their sins upon himself and destroy them upon the Cross, and the reality of humanity after Original Sin is that they need the grace of Christ, ordinarily through baptism, to be delivered from its effects.

Our Lord begins his public ministry by receiving his baptism at the hands of John, and this momentous occasion leads to a theophany where Son, Spirit (descending like a dove) and Father (a voice in the heavens) show they’re ready to begin the work of salvation in earnest: through the waters of baptism mankind begins its journey back to God. Thanks to Our Lord, mankind will be pleasing to the Father after a long, dark history since the Fall. The quiet work of justice prophesied by Isaiah in today’s First Reading has begun, a work that will reach beyond the Jews to all the nations, as represented by the story of Cornelius’ conversion in today’s Second Reading.

Today Our Lord’s work shifts from the Incarnation and the quiet years at Nazareth to the spotlight of his public ministry. Let’s make a resolution this year to bring his Gospel into the spotlight in our lives as well.

Readings: Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7; Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10; Acts 10:34–38; Matthew 3:13–17. See also The Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C (1st Sunday in Ordinary Time).

The Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C (1st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Today we celebrate the end of the Christmas season, and that may make you ask yourself why we would celebrate it, especially when Christmas “ended” two weeks ago. In today’s readings God himself celebrates what is taking place in the Gospel: the Baptism of his Son in the river Jordan by St. John the Baptist. In today’s First Reading God speaks of Jesus as his servant who is about to begin something wonderful: his public life. He’s going to bring justice to the world, be a light for the nations, open the eyes of the blind, and free prisoners, and God is keeping his promise through Jesus’ mission on earth. In short, God is sending out the Savior today to get to work. During Christmas we celebrated the birth of the Savior. On today’s feast, the Baptism of the Lord, we’re celebrating him finishing his silent years in Nazareth and going out to preach salvation to the world.

In today’s Second Reading Peter rejoices that salvation is not just for the people of Israel, but for everyone who respects God and acts uprightly. When Jesus is baptized in the Jordan he institutes a new kind of baptism. John talks about that baptism in the Gospel today as different from his: it is a baptism of the Holy Spirit. Peter in the Second Reading is speaking to Cornelius, who was the first non-Jew to be baptized in Church history. The Jews thought originally that the Savior would only come for the Jews, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to Peter and the Church through Cornelius’ situation that the Savior was coming for every nation that “fears God” (respects God) and “acts uprightly” (acts in a good way).

The Holy Spirit always works gradually. Cornelius had heard about Jesus and his promise of salvation, and had been praying for a sign. Peter was praying too, and they didn’t know each other at all. An angel came to Cornelius and told him to send men to find and bring Peter. Cornelius was a Roman centurion, and since he wasn’t a Jew, Peter wouldn’t have visited him unless the Holy Spirit had said it was okay in a dream, because Jews didn’t enter the homes of non-Jews. As Peter rejoices that the Savior has come for everyone, he recalls Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan as the beginning of doing good and healing all those who were oppressed by the devil. So we celebrate today with God, with Peter, with Cornelius, and with everyone who has become Christian since. We celebrate that Jesus began to go out and do good, heal the sick, give sight to the blind, and free those who are imprisoned by sin.

As we begin a new year, and the Christmas season concludes, Jesus’ private and public life show us it is time for us to get to work as well. In the Christmas season we’ve spent more time at home, resting, being with family and friends, receiving so many gifts, and getting ready to live the New Year better. It’s not a time for gloom and doom as we return to work, to school, to the daily grind: it’s time to show Our Lord we appreciate all he’s given us over the last year, and all he’s given us during the Christmas season. It’s time for us to get to work and get the word out about salvation. Cornelius heard about salvation from someone, long before he met St. Peter, and there are lots of Cornelius’ out there who are looking for what our faith has to offer. They are hungry for God.

Let’s thank Our Lord for the Christmas Season and the New Year that has just begun, keep moving forward on those New Year’s resolutions as a way to show gratitude to Our Lord for all the blessings he has poured out on us, pray for those who are suffering from hunger and war, and pray for all those Cornelius’ out there to find and love God, to do good, and to find salvation.

Readings: Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7; Psalm 104:1b–4, 24–25, 27–30; Acts 10:34–38; Luke 3:15–16, 21–22.