12 January, Sunday – The Last Day of Christmas

12 January – The Baptism of the Lord

The Baptism of the Lord

The Father anointed his beloved son, Jesus, with the Holy Spirit and with power, to bring healing and peace to all the nations. 

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Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7

Thus says the Lord:

Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom my soul delights.
I have endowed him with my spirit
that he may bring true justice to the nations.

He does not cry out or shout aloud,
or make his voice heard in the streets.
He does not break the crushed reed,
nor quench the wavering flame.

Faithfully he brings true justice;
he will neither waver, nor be crushed
until true justice is established on earth,
for the islands are awaiting his law.

I, the Lord, have called you to serve the cause of right;
I have taken you by the hand and formed you;
I have appointed you as covenant of the people and light of the nations,

to open the eyes of the blind,
to free captives from prison,
and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.

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Acts 10:34-38

Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: ‘The truth I have now come to realise’ he said ‘is that God does not have favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.

‘It is true, God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ – but Jesus Christ is Lord of all men. You must have heard about the recent happenings in Judaea; about Jesus of Nazareth and how he began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.’

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Matthew 3:13-17

Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him. ‘It is I who need baptism from you’ he said ‘and yet you come to me!’ But Jesus replied, ‘Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that righteousness demands.’ At this, John gave in to him.

As soon as Jesus was baptised he came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And a voice spoke from heaven, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.’

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This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased

There is often much confusion and debate as to when is the last day of Christmas. In the secular world, Christmas pretty much ends the day after Christmas Day. In the streets, most Christmas decorations are taken down immediately after and here in Singapore, quickly replaced by Chinese New Year decorations. I find myself arguing with friends that it is still Christmas and we should not hasten to take down the Christmas tree, and that it is still okay to sing Christmas songs!

At this year’s Christmas mass, the priest was preaching about the meaning of Christmas for us Catholics, why we Catholics especially should wish each other “Merry Christmas” and not “Happy Holidays” all the way till the end of Christmastide. We should celebrate and proudly proclaim the reason for the season! Christmas literally translates to the ‘Mass of Christ’, and the mass is the death sacrifice Jesus gave to us.

So when exactly is the end of Christmastide? Many believe, Catholics included, that it ends with the Feast of the Epiphany, where the three wise men paid homage to Baby Jesus. This usually coincides with the traditional twelfth day of Christmas. However, according to the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar, the official end of the entire Christmas season is the celebration of the Baptism of the Lord, the Sunday after Epiphany.

I first heard this explanation during the homily, and when I went to visit the beautiful Nativity scene at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, there were posters describing this; and this was further reinforced a third time when a friend shared a picture of this poster in a WhatsApp group chat. I can no longer say I am confused or ignorant about this subject, and must do my part in sharing with my fellow brothers and sisters. How apt then, that I was rostered to write on the Feast on the Baptism of the Lord! This is my personal God-moment.

With Chinese New Year just round the corner, getting sucked in to more festivities, it is honestly a little challenging to remember to live out our Christian lives. But as we celebrate the last day of Christmas, let us remember how Jesus came into our lives and how we marry our cultures together, that to be a Christian means being a Christian in every day and aspect of our lives, not just on Sundays.

(Today’s Oxygen by Kristel Wang)

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we pray for the strength to be the Christian you desire us to be in every day of our lives, to be the face of Christ to others, and always spread your message of love, joy and peace.

Thanksgiving: Thank you Heavenly Father, for the beautiful sacrifice of your only Son. Help us to always remember all that you do for us, especially when we find it difficult to see, to search for you in all the little moments. Amen.

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