January 9, 2022
by Colleen Chiacchere
Creighton University's Magis Teacher Corp
click here for photo and information about the writer

The Baptism of the Lord
Lectionary: 21

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Acts 10:34-38 or Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

Celebrating Christmas

Praying Ordinary Time

Today we celebrate the baptism of the Lord.  This feast day is one that helps bridge the Christmas season and Ordinary Time. Today’s feast is also a bit like a third epiphany, when Jesus appears or is presented to the world, after the first two “epiphanies” of the Nativity and the Magi’s visit.

There are two great choices for the first reading, the responsorial psalm and the second reading.  If, like me, it is hard for you to choose, I invite to you read and reflect with both options.

The hopeful descriptions of the first readings are building up to a straight path, good news, the glory of the Lord shining, justice coming to the nations, a victory in justice, a kept promise, a chosen one.  The exiled people were experiencing devastation, low morale and hopelessness during the Babylonian exile. These words bring promise and hope.  And, the hope is not just for the Jewish people, but rather for the whole world.  

The second reading from Titus reminds us that God’s kindness and generous love, and the gift of our Savior Jesus are not because of “any righteous deeds we have done, but because of his mercy.”  The second reading from Acts mentions a similar theme in reminding us that God’s love and mercy is for all (Jews and Gentiles in this context) and God doesn’t show favorites.  Jesus’ baptism is also mentioned, that God anointed Jesus “with the Holy Spirit and with power.  He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

The Gospel story is both familiar and surprising.  John the Baptist paves the way in saying that “one mightier than I is coming,” highlighting Jesus’ specialness.  John the Baptist baptizes Jesus, then, after Jesus prays, “heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove,” with a voice saying “You are my beloved Son with who I am well pleased.”  Jesus is definitively here among us, living as a human and ministering on earth.

What does this feast mean for us, and we recently embarked into new year, 2022?  What does this feast mean for us, as we conclude our Christmas celebrations and move into Ordinary Time in the liturgical calendar?  What does this feast mean for us as we still battle COVID, racism, extreme divisiveness, climate change, forced migration, and other overwhelming injustices and struggles?

I would suggest two points for reflection that are helping me as I pray with these readings:  

  1. How might we learn from and grow closer to Jesus as he begins his adult ministry here on earth?  Maybe we can renew our commitment to be in awe of both his humanity and divinity?  Maybe we can closely follow him, walk with him, learn from him during his “ordinary” events of his public ministry in the coming weeks.
  2. How might we better understand that each of us is called “beloved” by God and named as someone with whom God is well-pleased?  Our own identity - that God loves each of us without condition or merit - might be more clearly defined!  What might that mean for our public ministry (or our private ministries each day)as beloved sons and daughters of God? 

May this feast, and this message of God’s love, of Jesus’ humanity, and our own belovedness be a hopeful reminder of how we are called to live in this new year and new liturgical season. 

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