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Baptism of the Lord

Posted: January 11, 2020 by CatholicJules in Sunday Reflections
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Anointed Ones: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Baptism of the Lord

Readings:

Isaiah 42:1–4, 6–7
Psalm 29:1–4, 9–10
Acts 10:34–38
Matthew 3:13–17

Jesus presents himself for baptism in today’s Gospel not because He is a sinner, but to fulfill the word of God proclaimed by His prophets. He must be baptized to reveal that He is the Christ (“anointed one”)—the Spirit-endowed Servant promised by Isaiah in today’s First Reading.

His baptism marks the start of a new world, a new creation. As Isaiah prophesied, the Spirit descends upon Jesus like a dove—as the Spirit hovered over the face of the deep in the beginning (see Genesis 1:2).
As it was in the beginning, at the Jordan also the majestic voice of the Lord thunders above the waters. The Father opens the heavens and declares Jesus to be His “beloved son.”

God had long prepared the Israelites for His coming, as Peter preaches in today’s Second Reading. Jesus was anticipated in the “beloved son” given to Abraham (see Genesis 22:2, 12, 26), and in the calling of Israel as His “first-born son” (see Exodus 4:22–23). Jesus is the divine son begotten by God, the everlasting heir promised to King David (see Psalm 2:7; 2 Samuel 7:14).

He is “a covenant of the people [Israel]” and “a light to the nations,” Isaiah says. By the new covenant made in His blood (see 1 Corinthians 11:25), God has gathered the lost sheep of Israel together with whoever fears Him in every nation.

Christ has become the source from which God pours out His Spirit on Israelites and Gentiles alike (see Acts 10:45). In Baptism, all are anointed with that same Spirit, made beloved sons and daughters of God. Indeed, we are Christians—literally “anointed ones.”

We are the “sons of God” in today’s Psalm—called to give glory to His name in His temple. Let us pray that we remain faithful to our calling as His children, that our Father might call us what he calls His Son, “my beloved . . . in whom I am well pleased.”


God has no favourites as we are reminded in tomorrow’s second reading on the feast of the baptism of our Lord. And so we are so lavishly loved and gifted according to His Will for us. And if others have the same gift but are better at it, we must rejoice for it had been put to very good use for our Lord! If indeed we are lacking of anything to build His kingdom, to serve Him or brethen in love, we need only pray and He will provide for all that we need.

All sin is bad whether venial or mortal. Therefore we must avoid any and all sin. For even little ones will always lead to bigger and more terrible ones. If we fall into sin then we must quickly do all that we need to come back into full union with our Lord whether it be as simple as a contrite prayer or going for the Sacrament of reconciliation. There are two sins that I feel we need to guard ourselves against especially those of us who try our best to serve others through discipleship of our Lord Jesus Christ; that is spiritual pride and spiritual envy! For our service becomes a big zero as we end up serving no one but our own egos. What we say and do only drives others away instead of leading them closer to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray for one another to remain steadfast in our love and service of Him and one another. All for His glory now and forever. Amen

First reading

1 John 5:14-21 ·
If we ask for anything, he will hear us

We are quite confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, and it is in accordance with his will,
he will hear us; and, knowing that whatever we may ask, he hears us, we know that we have already been granted what we asked of him.
If anybody sees his brother commit a sin that is not a deadly sin, he has only to pray, and God will give life to the sinner – not those who commit a deadly sin; for there is a sin that is death and I will not sa that you must pray about that. Every kind of wrong-doing is sin, but not all sin is deadly.

We know that anyone who has been begotten by God does not sin, because the begotten Son of God protects him, and the Evil One does not touch him.
We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One.
We know, too, that the Son of God has come, and has given us the power to know the true God. We are in the true God,
as we are in his Son, Jesus Christ.
This is the true God, this is eternal life. Children, be on your guard against false gods.

Gospel

John 3:22-30
‘He must grow greater and I must grow smaller: my joy is complete’

Jesus went with his disciples into the Judaean countryside and stayed with them there and baptised. At the same time John was baptising at Aenon near Salim, where there was plenty of water, and people were going there to be baptised. This was before John had been put in prison.
Now some of John’s disciples had opened a discussion with a Jew about purification, so they went to John and said, ‘Rabbi, the man who was with you on the far side of the Jordan, the man to whom you bore witness, is baptising now; and everyone is going to him.’
John replied:

‘A man can lay claim
only to what is given him from heaven.

‘You yourselves can bear me out: I said: I myself am not the Christ; I am the one who has been sent in front of him.

‘The bride is only for the bridegroom; and yet the bridegroom’s friend, who stands there and listens, is glad when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. This same joy I feel, and now it is complete. He must grow greater, I must grow smaller.’


We often don’t dwell on our baptism enough. For most it was a one time thing of the past necessary but over and done with. How far from the truth it is. For it was the day we were born again into new life with Christ! An indelible seal was placed upon us and we became for all eternity God our Father’s children. We were made Holy, set apart. Likewise we do not dwell enough on the supreme gift of the Holy Eucharist, where through the Holy sacrifice of the lamb of God, by His precious body and blood we have life eternal with Him. We become partakers of His divinity which gives us the power to overcome all evil and sin. For some it has simply become a habit, a routine we go through, to check off our to-do-list. How far wrong can we be? Perhaps this is one of the reasons we fall easily into sin, we do not dwell and immerse ourselves in the love of our Lord through pray and recollection. We are not grateful enough for the multitude of blessings and graces given to us and so do not give rightful praise and thanksgiving to God daily.

Anyone who has fallen and living in sin knows how life draining it is. We simply have no life in us. We live day to day in a dreary existence always hoping for more, wanting more. Turn back to the Lord! For like the leper in today’s Gospel we too can cry out to Jesus, “Lord if you want to You can cure me.” And He will surely cure us because He loves us and wants us to live fully in His love. A contrite spirit He will not spurn.

Today let us choose to never take the love of our Lord Jesus Christ for granted. Let us dwell in His love, on the precious and Holy Sacraments we have been given which renews us and gives us life. Let us offer our praise and thanksgiving through an increased and greater prayer life, which only leads us closer to Him who loves us dearly. Glory and Praise be to God. Amen

First reading

1 John 5:5-13
There are three witnesses: the Spirit and the water and the blood

Who can overcome the world?
Only the man who believes that Jesus is the Son of God:
Jesus Christ who came by water and blood,
not with water only, but with water and blood; with the Spirit as another witness –
since the Spirit is the truth – so that there are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and all three of them agree.
We accept the testimony of human witnesses, but God’s testimony is much greater,
and this is God’s testimony, given as evidence for his Son.
Everybody who believes in the Son of God
has this testimony inside him; and anyone who will not believe God is making God out to be a liar, because he has not trusted
the testimony God has given about his Son.
This is the testimony:
God has given us eternal life and this life is in his Son; anyone who has the Son has life,
anyone who does not have the Son does not have life.

I have written all this to you so that you who believe in the name of the Son of God may be sure that you have eternal life.

Gospel

Luke 5:12-16
‘If you want to, you can cure me’

Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered with leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘if you want to, you can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once. He ordered him to tell no one, ‘But go and show yourself to the priest and make the offering for your healing as Moses prescribed it, as evidence for them.’
His reputation continued to grow, and large crowds would gather to hear him and to have their sickness cured, but he would always go off to some place where he could be alone and pray.


Both the vertical and horizontal dimension of the cross in which our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ hung for love of us serves as a great and loving reminder; that He died not just for you and me but for all of us! That by liberating us from sin we are not just united in Him individually but with one another in Him. Therefore all of God’s children are One Body through our Lord Jesus Christ. Can we then say we love God but not our sister and brother in Christ?

Unforgiveness is in a sense a habitual sin! Why? Because we regularly by our own volition, refuse to allow God’s love and mercy to overshadow us. To allow His grace to set both our heart and that of our brethren free from the hurt, guilt and pain. Unintentionally perhaps we are saying that our Unforgiveness is greater than God’s love and mercy! Why should we allow ourselves to remain captives of the injustice done against us? Let our Lord set us free from all bondages so that we can live free and live to the full in His love as His disciples.

And as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will proclaim His love to all that we meet. We shall bring the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ to the poor, to proclaim His liberation to all captives of sin, His healing grace will come upon those who turn to Him and He will set the downtrodden free. That Jesus our Lord loves you and me, He loves us all! Amen

First reading

1 John 4:19-5:4
Anyone who loves God must also love his brother

We are to love, because God loved us first.
Anyone who says, ‘I love God’, and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen.
So this is the commandment that he has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother.

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ
has been begotten by God; and whoever loves the Father that begot him loves the child whom he begets.
We can be sure that we love God’s children
if we love God himself and do what he has commanded us; this is what loving God is –
keeping his commandments; and his commandments are not difficult, because anyone who has been begotten by God
has already overcome the world; this is the victory over the world – our faith.

Gospel

Luke 4:14-22
‘This text is being fulfilled today, even as you listen’

Jesus, with the power of the Spirit in him, returned to Galilee; and his reputation spread throughout the countryside. He taught in their synagogues and everyone praised him.
He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:

The spirit of the Lord has been given to me,
for he has anointed me.
He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favour.

He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to speak to them, ‘This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.’ And he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips.


Today I ask myself, how fearless am I living in God’s love?

Do I awake with a restlessness in my heart of facing yet another uncertain day? Have I any sins that I have not renounced that prevent me from living fully in His love? Have I neglected my loving Lord by not entering into His presence through prayer and dwelling on His word and will for me? Have I quickly forgotten the wonders of His love in my life? Have I allowed myself to be distracted by the lures of the world that I have let Jesus pass me by numerous times? Will this like many days end where I do not speak of God’s love for me and for all?

Or do I awake refreshed ready to dwell again in the love of my Lord. Knowing that whatever lies ahead, Jesus my Lord is by my side. And so I start the day in praise and thanksgiving for the many blessings in my life and the many blessings I will receive by my faithfulness. I enter into His presence ready to listen to Him as I fall into His loving embrace. As far as possible I seek to unite myself with Him fully through Holy Eucharist, I then go about my day with one mind and one heart in Him. The day does not end without me speaking about His love either by speech or in writing. Only then is this a day well lived in His love.

I am fearless because I am perfectly loved by my Lord Jesus Christ! Amen

First reading

1 John 4:11-18 ·
As long as we love one another God’s love will be complete in us

My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us.
We can know that we are living in him
and he is living in us because he lets us share his Spirit.
We ourselves saw and we testify that the Father sent his Son as saviour of the world.
If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him, and he in God.
We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves.
God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him.

Love will come to its perfection in us
when we can face the day of Judgement without fear; because even in this world
we have become as he is.
In love there can be no fear, but fear is driven out by perfect love: because to fear is to expect punishment, and anyone who is afraid is still imperfect in love.

Gospel

Mark 6:45-52
His disciples saw him walking on the lake

After the five thousand had eaten and were filled, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to Bethsaida, while he himself sent the crowd away. After saying goodbye to them he went off into the hills to pray. When evening came, the boat was far out on the lake, and he was alone on the land. He could see they were worn out with rowing, for the wind was against them; and about the fourth watch of the night he came towards them, walking on the lake. He was going to pass them by, but when they saw him walking on the lake they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they had all seen him and were terrified. But he at once spoke to them, and said, ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’ Then he got into the boat with them, and the wind dropped. They were utterly and completely dumbfounded, because they had not seen what the miracle of the loaves meant; their minds were closed.


Love of God, love from God, love for God, is love put into action. It is not dependent on how one feels nor anything remotely sentimental but rather a choice to act for the good of another. It is a ‘muscle’ that will grow big and strong over time when we exercise it regularly with even the smallest acts of service done in love. Be it at home, church, community or in the world. I will get up and prepare a meal for my children even though I am exhausted from working in the office. I will buy the expensive balm for my spouse who needs it even though I’m broke. I put away my games for love of my mom, to massage her aching shoulders. I will help serve at a second mass because they are short even though I have lots of housework to do. I will pray all the more fervently for you because you requested me to, even though I feel drained and spiritually dry. It all starts with simple, small acts of love.

Our Lord Jesus Christ did not simply say He loved us. He showed us how much He did by dying on the cross for us. He also showed us how much in the many little acts of mercy He performed. In today’s Gospel I hear Him tell me His disciple, don’t just have nice thoughts and concern for your brethren, give them something of yourself and tend to their needs. Start with what little you have and I will multiply it. I will act for love of you and your brethren!

Still there is much greater depth of God’s love for us in today’s Gospel. How He would one day give us our daily bread to nourish us body, mind and soul. And so this is fulfilled today, for He gives us of His humanity and elevates us through His divinity to full union with Him in Holy Eucharist. Glory and Praise to You, my Lord Jesus Christ! Amen

First reading

1 John 4:7-10 ·
Let us love one another, since love comes from God

My dear people, let us love one another
since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God’s love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

Gospel

Mark 6:34-44
The feeding of the five thousand

As Jesus stepped ashore he saw a large crowd; and he took pity on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he set himself to teach them at some length. By now it was getting very late, and his disciples came up to him and said, ‘This is a lonely place and it is getting very late. So send them away, and they can go to the farms and villages round about, to buy themselves something to eat.’ He replied, ‘Give them something to eat yourselves.’ They answered, ‘Are we to go and spend two hundred denarii on bread for them to eat?’ ‘How many loaves have you?’ he asked. ‘Go and see.’ And when they had found out they said, ‘Five, and two fish.’ Then he ordered them to get all the people together in groups on the green grass, and they sat down on the ground in squares of hundreds and fifties. Then he took the five loaves and the two fish, raised his eyes to heaven and said the blessing; then he broke the loaves and handed them to his disciples to distribute among the people. He also shared out the two fish among them all. They all ate as much as they wanted. They collected twelve basketfuls of scraps of bread and pieces of fish. Those who had eaten the loaves numbered five thousand men.


As much as we would like to, we don’t always live in the light all of the time. From time to time darkness overshadows us in many various forms and we find ourselves stumbling, hoping and praying for a way out.

How wonderful for us who have indeed seen the great light! Our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ is that very light and we know with certainty that He will surely come to drive all darkness away. His saving hand is upon us ever ready to heal and restore us. So that we can live fully in His light. It is our duty therefore to bring His light to those dwell in darkness. So that they might come to know Him and live in His light.

Let us offer our prayers today for the nations who are undergoing darkness today, may the light of Christ shine through bringing them comfort, healing and peace. We pray for Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and the rest of the world who face calamity, war and unrest. Amen

First reading

1 John 3:22-4:6
The Son of God has come and given us the power to know the true God

Whatever we ask God, we shall receive,
because we keep his commandments
and live the kind of life that he wants.
His commandments are these: that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and that we love one another as he told us to.
Whoever keeps his commandments
lives in God and God lives in him. We know that he lives in us by the Spirit that he has given us.

It is not every spirit, my dear people, that you can trust; test them, to see if they come from God, there are many false prophets, now, in the world.
You can tell the spirits that come from God by this: every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh
is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus is not from God, but is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you were warned about.
Well, now he is here, in the world.
Children, you have already overcome these false prophets, because you are from God and you have in you one who is greater than anyone in this world; as for them, they are of the world, and so they speak the language of the world dand the world listens to them.
But we are children of God, and those who know God listen to us; those who are not of God refuse to listen to us.
This is how we can tell the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood.

Gospel

Matthew 4:12-17,23-25
The people that lived in darkness have seen a great light

Hearing that John had been arrested, Jesus went back to Galilee, and leaving Nazareth he went and settled in Capernaum, a lakeside town on the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali. In this way the prophecy of Isaiah was to be fulfilled:

‘Land of Zebulun! Land of Naphtali!
Way of the sea on the far side of Jordan,
Galilee of the nations!
The people that lived in darkness has seen a great light; on those who dwell in the land and shadow of death a light has dawned.’

From that moment Jesus began his preaching with the message, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand.’
He went round the whole of Galilee teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Good News of the kingdom and curing all kinds of diseases and sickness among the people. His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and he cured them. Large crowds followed him, coming from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judaea and Transjordania.