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1 John 5:5-13

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.


Mark 1:6-11

In the course of his preaching, John said, “Someone is following me, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to kneel down and undo the strap of his sandals. I have baptised you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.”

It was at this time that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. No sooner had he come up out of the water than he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.”

Today is January 6, the day that the Epiphany is normally celebrated, but for us in Singapore, we celebrate it tomorrow, the Sunday between January 2 and 8. The Epiphany, which we will celebrate tomorrow, is the revelation (as in revealing) of the Son of God to the whole world as represented by the three magi from the East.

Today, however, the readings show to us how God reveals the himself to those who believe in him through the Son of God. St. John speaks of the testimony of God through the Spirit, the water and the blood. What are these referring to? They are referring to our baptism. When we are baptised, the Holy Spirit descends on us and lives in us, much like the way the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus when he was baptised. That’s not to say that it is impossible for the Holy Spirit to dwell in those that are not baptised. Rather, what the baptism is, and what the descending of the Holy Spirit is, is that through baptism, God is making known to the world that his Spirit dwells within us, just as how when Jesus was baptised, God made known to the world that his Spirit dwells in Jesus.

The water that is referred to is the water of baptism. No baptism is complete without the use of flowing water. We cannot replace the water used in baptism with something else, say, motor oil or milk. It has to be water. Not necessarily clean water, but water nonetheless. We can of course use dirty dishwashing water to baptise someone. It would be valid, but inappropriate. I think such a baptism is called valid, but illicit.

In any case, why is it important to use water? Because water is like us in the sense that water is material. Humans are a delicate fusion of matter and spirit. We have the Spirit coming down on us during baptism, but to just concentrate on the spiritual world alone neglects the important fact that we are also matter. The sins that separate us from God affect not only our spiritual soul, but also our physical body. Since water is used for cleaning in all parts of the world, it is a universal sign of the cleansing of our physical body from sin while the Holy Spirit cleanses our spiritual soul from sin.

Finally, we have the blood. Through baptism, we are cleansed and free from sin. We are reconciled with God and we have become children of God, brothers of Jesus Christ. We are, therefore, the same family now. Being of the same family means that we share the same blood. Since the Father, being total spirit, has no blood, it is the blood of the Son that we share. The blood that we partake of during the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, where we celebrate our communion with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and the bride of Christ, his Church. It is this same blood that has been shed for the forgiveness of sins. It is this blood that has made our baptism possible, since it was sin that separated us from God. This blood that we too now share with all other Christians, is the blood of Christ.

So with these three witnesses, God is telling us that everyone who believes that Jesus is the Son of God (i.e. he is baptised a Christian) has Jesus in him. Each of us has been made in the image of God, but only Jesus, the Son of God, is the perfect image of God because he is God. And anyone who has Jesus in him has eternal life, for as St. John wrote in his gospel, “eternal life is this: to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

Each of us then has Jesus in us, and therefore each of us is called to reflect Jesus to those who meet us. As we are not perfect images of God we do, however, fail to do what we are called to do. The Church understands this and therefore provides the sacraments for us to frequently receive, through which we might receive God’s graces that will enable us to live a life that is worthy of being called Christian.

Dear Father, help us to live a life that is truly Christian, by living the way Christ lived, by speaking the way Christ spoke, and by loving the way Christ loved. Help us to be one with him just as he is one with you. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Those who reflect Christ to us.

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