13 Jan – Solemnity of 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.
– The Sunday Missal
‘Console my people, console them’
says your God.
‘Speak to the heart of Jerusalem
and call to her
that her time of service is ended,
that her sin is atoned for,
that she has received from the hand of the Lord
double punishment for all her crimes.’
A voice cries, ‘Prepare in the wilderness
a way for the Lord.
Make a straight highway for our God
across the desert.
Let every valley be filled in,
every mountain and hill be laid low.
Let every cliff become a plain,
and the ridges a valley;
then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed
and all mankind shall see it;
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’
Go up on a high mountain,
joyful messenger to Zion.
Shout with a loud voice,
joyful messenger to Jerusalem.
Shout without fear,
say to the towns of Judah,
‘Here is your God.’
Here is the Lord coming with power,
his arm subduing all things to him.
The prize of his victory is with him,
his trophies all go before him.
He is like a shepherd feeding his flock,
gathering lambs in his arms,
holding them against his breast
and leading to their rest the mother ewes.
God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions; we must be self-restrained and live good and religious lives here in this present world, while we are waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the Appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Christ Jesus. He sacrificed himself for us in order to set us free from all wickedness and to purify a people so that it could be his very own and would have no ambition except to do good.
But when the kindness and love of God our saviour for mankind were revealed, it was not because he was concerned with any righteous actions we might have done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own compassion that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our saviour. He did this so that we should be justified by his grace, to become heirs looking forward to inheriting eternal life.
A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to think that John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Now when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.’
You are my son the Beloved; my favour rests on you
With the turn of each year, many of us may have adopted the annual tradition of setting new year resolutions. 2019 will (finally) be the year we eat clean, exercise regularly and sleep early. We will spend quality time with family and friends who matter, or decisively end a toxic relationship or a friendship which has run its course. Professionally, we will work smart and finally clinch the promotion we deserve. At least, this is what everyone seems to be saying on social media.
The world bombards us with expectations such as “You are what you have. You are what people say about you.” We are told we need to hustle – to get out there and work it until we find the opportunities we want in life. We need to fight for whatever is worth having. In stark contrast, the Word tells us that we are loved unconditionally, loved as we are, flaws, warts and all.
Having spent all our lives tuned into what the world is telling us to be, the greatest challenge for many of us is to fully accept the truth that we are God’s children, His Beloveds. At today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are reminded of our identity as God’s children, just as Jesus is the Beloved Son. As I reflected on today’s readings, a dear friend sent a poem which presciently encapsulates how I aspire to live the life of the Beloved in 2019, as well as the years ahead:
For Presence (John O’Donohue)
Awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to follow its path.
Let the flame of anger free you of all falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror on inner dignity of soul.
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Seet)
Prayer: Dear Father, we pray that we may always remember and live out our identity as your beloved Children. Help us to reach out to those around us as people loved unconditionally.
Thanksgiving: Thank you God for the gift of Your perfect and unconditional love.