10Jan January 10. The Baptism of the Lord.

January 10 2021. The Baptism of the Lord.

First Reading. Isaiah 55:1-11

Come to the waters, come buy and eat

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;
and you that have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

Responsorial: Isaiah 12:2-6

You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.

Truly, God is my salvation,
I trust, I shall not fear.
For the Lord is my strength, my song,
he became my saviour.
With joy you will draw water
from the wells of salvation. (R./)

Give thanks to the Lord, give praise to his name!
Make his mighty deeds known to the peoples!
Declare the greatness of his name. (R./

Sing a psalm to the Lord
for he has done glorious deeds,
make them known to all the earth!
People of Zion, sing and shout for joy
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel. (R./)

Acts of the Apostles (10:34-38)

Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and went about doing good
Peter addressed Cornelius and his household: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ-he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.

Gospel: Mark 1:7-11

As Jesus receives baptism a voice says, “You are my Son” and the Spirit rests on him
John the Baptist proclaimed,
“The one who is more powerful than I is coming
after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his
sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with
the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized
by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water,
he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove
on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved;
with you I am well pleased.”

A clear purpose in life

I’ve had the privilege of leading several pilgrimages to the Holy Land. One of the highlights is a communal immersion up to our knees in the river Jordan, to renew the promises of our baptism. It is a moving experience when one recalls the Spirit descending, and the Father confirming each of us as his son or daughter. Many of those who experienced it remember that moment with great emotion, and use it to renew their commitment.

The baptism of Jesus is a moment of special grace in our story of salvation. Not only did he join us in our sinful state, but the Father and the Spirit are seen and heard to be there with him. The gospel uses the simple phrase that “the heavens were opened,” but it is a powerful statement. Later on, when Jesus completed his life-journey on Calvary, we read how “the veil of the Temple was rent in two.” Now at last we were free to enter the Holy of Holies. Today’s gospel is the beginning of a journey, which, through our own baptism, each of us is asked to travel. It is a journey full of purpose.

Each of us needs a sense of purpose and pattern to our Christian living. When I set out on a journey I need to have a definite idea of where I intend going, and how to make the journey. Peter summarised the purpose and pattern of Christ’s life when he said, “went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” We are invited to make his purpose our own.

A man was down the country travelling along by-roads where the signposts were few and far between. After a while, unsure of his directions, he decided to ask the first person he saw. When he came across a farmer driving his cows home for milking he stopped the car and asked if he was on the right road to Mallow. The farmer told him that he certainly was on the Mallow road. The driver thanked him and was about to move forward when the farmer added, in a nonchalant way, “You’re on the right road, but you’re going in the wrong direction!’

Thoughts on Baptism

The sacrament I like celebrating the most is the sacrament of baptism. It is always a happy occasion. A young child has recently been received into their family with great joy and celebration, and now they are being received again into another family, the family of the church. In being received into this family, the children become our brothers and sisters in the Lord, sons and daughters of God, and temples of the Spirit. The joy of the occasion is palpable, especially when the parents and godparents come up to the baptismal font and the water is poured over the head of the child by the celebrant. Each child is anointed before and after baptism with special oil, the oil of catechumens and the oil of chrism; the baptismal shawl is placed around the child and the baptismal candle is lit. The whole occasion is somehow uplifting in a way that is unique to that sacrament.

The vast majority of our baptisms are of children. They are oblivious to all that is happening around them. A big decision is being made on their behalf without their knowing anything about it. Yet, just as parents make all kinds of other big decisions for their children without consulting them, so parents are happy to make this particular significant decision on their behalf. There is a story in the gospels of parents bringing little children to Jesus. When the disciples tried to stop parents doing this, Jesus rebuked his disciples and said to them, ‘let the children come to me and do not stop them, for to such as these the kingdom of God belongs.’ Parents continue to bring their children to Jesus today whenever they present them for baptism, because in baptism they are being baptized into the person of Christ; they become members of his body; Jesus begins to live within them through the Spirit. When parents bring their children for baptism they are making a decision for them that is very much in keeping with the Lord’s desire. ‘Let the children come to me and do not stop them.’

Today we celebrate the feast of the baptism of Jesus. It is a good day to reflect on our own baptism and its significance for us. The day of Jesus’ baptism was a watershed in his life; it was a day of new beginning. On that day he began his public ministry during which he gave himself fully in the service of God and all of God’s people. On that day Jesus launched forth as the one who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. As he set out on that momentous journey for all of us, he was assured of God his Father’s favour, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you’, and he was empowered by the Holy Spirit, who descended upon him life a dove. Even though Jesus received the baptism of John as an adult and we received Christian baptism as children, our baptism was also a day of new beginning for us. On that day we were launched on the great adventure of becoming disciples of Jesus in our own time. On that day, we too, like Jesus, were given an assurance of God’s love and favour, and we too were empowered by the Holy Spirit for the journey that lay before us. On that day we were caught up into Jesus’ own very special relationship with God and we became a member of Jesus’ family of disciples, the church. It is a momentous occasion that has the potential to shape our lives in a very fundamental way, in a way that is in keeping with God’s purpose for our lives.

In a sense we spend the rest of our lives trying to catch up with that day of new beginning. We are baptized as children but it is as adults that we confirm our baptism for ourselves. It is as adults that we say our own adult ‘yes’ to the Lord who said ‘yes’ to us as young children on the day of our baptism. It may be in our late twenties or our thirties or forties or even later that we come to say that ‘yes’ with all our heart and soul and mind. It is often in those mature years that we can hear the call of Isaiah in today’s first reading, ‘O come to the water all you who are thirsty, Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near.’ The Lord keeps calling out to us from the moment of our baptism, and as the Lord declares in that first reading, ‘the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’ Our response to the Lord’s call, the Lord’s word, can be slow in coming, but his call, his word, remains powerfully creative and will in some way or other make of us what God wants for us.

7 Responses

  1. Thara+Benedicta

    Key Message:
    God anoints us according to our calling.

    Takeaway from first reading:
    Would like to share three takeaways from today’s first reading:

    1. Today’s first reading asks us to buy grain, wine and milk without money.
    When we thirst for the Holy Spirit and hunger for the word of God, God satisfies us.
    He says ‘Seek first the kingdom of God, and rest shall be given unto you.”
    When we seek to do God’s will in our life, God will provide us with the required resources like finances, relationships etc.
    Our financial constraints incline us to worry a lot. If we are lacking in any of our needs then our worry weakens our minds and leads to stress. What we can do in these conditions is to do what we can do and leave God to take care of what we cannot do. Look at the face of our loving Father above, He will surely give, what we cannot get by our own efforts.

    2. “My thoughts are higher than your thoughts, my ways are higher than your ways.”
    For joyful surprises we do not ask the “why” question, only when we encounter problems this query comes to our mind!!
    More than the problems, we get worried wondering why all these are happening…We should trust in the Lord and live peacefully, not trying to figure out the root cause. When God wants us to understand the root causes, He will surely make us understand.

    3. “My words shall not return to me empty.”
    When Jesus was tempted by the devil in the desert, He quoted God’s word and defeated the devil. The major cause of not being able to walk in God’s plan for our lives is temptation from the devil and Jesus has showed us very clearly how to overcome the temptations from devil. In all the three instances Jesus quoted the scripture. The Holy Bible is full of God’s promises for us to quote and enjoy a victorious life.

    Takeaway from second reading:
    God shows no partiality. God wants to shower His spiritual gifts on all His people and wants everyone to have a close walk with Him.
    When an angel appeared before Cornelius, the angel said “Your prayers have been heard and your acts of charity have been remembered”.
    God’s loving heart is moved by our simple prayers and works of charity.

    Takeaway from Gospel reading:
    1. God anoints our Lord Jesus with the Holy Spirit for His ministry. During our Baptism, Confirmation, we are anointed by God our Father to do the ministry that has been allocated to us. During the first Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came in with tongues of fire and thunder. Saint Terese of the Child Jesus in her Autobiography writes about her confirmation. During her confirmation, she received the Holy Spirit as a gentle breeze. In whatever forms we receive the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit anoints us to do the work which God has planned for us. It may be a home maker role or a business man role or a priestly role, we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit to perform the role.

    2. As we read in 1 Corinthians 12:1, for each one of us the gifts of the Holy Spirit are provided for the common good of all. God distributes the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to how one needs it. St. Therese of the Child Jesus did not perform miracles when she was sojourning on earth. She suffered and offered little sacrifices with love to God. God did not want her to lead a life performing miracles, but wanted her to live a simple life, unnoticed while on earth. Hence, God showers the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to one’s calling.

    3. During the Baptism of Jesus, God said that He was very pleased with Jesus. At this point of time, Jesus had not yet started His public ministry. God did not love Jesus more when He was crucified on the cross and less when He was baptised. So God loves us continuously, irrespective of whatever our position or status is.

    Gifts or revelations of God our Almighty Father:
    1. When Jesus quoted the scriptures, the enemy was not able to withstand the same. So similarly fight your battles quoting the scriptures, fighting your own doubts, fears, weaknesses or the challenges posted by the enemy.
    For Example,
    a. Pray for your children quoting Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring”.
    “Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit on my children and bless them.”

    b. When you are sick: Jeremaiah 17:14
    “Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed;
    save me and I will be saved,
    for you are the one I praise.”

    2. As we read in the second reading God is never partial. He says “Ask and it shall be given unto you” (Luke 11:9) and “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13)
    So let us ask and receive more and more anointing of the Holy Spirit.

    3. 1 Corinthians 12 says:
    “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
    God grants the gift of faith for all of us. Challenging situations in our life make us ‘operate’ on the gift of faith. We have faith in God that our children will come back on the right track, we will get back our lost jobs, we will get our relationships smoothened out…

    4. Tips from First reading:
    a. When we encounter financial constraints, we get into stress and worry about paying our bills, buying our necessary items etc. or if it’s sickness apart from pain we worry about how to overcome our sickness and so on… if we let worry into our minds, then our the mind weakens and we lose the strength required to do what we need to do.
    b. Most of the times, more than the actual problems it’s the worry that stresses us out. If we look at our own experiences, we would have overcome the problem by God’s grace but there would not have been any fruit because of worrying. So escape the worrying part. Whenever the worrying thought comes to your mind, keep repeating “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”.

    Daily, pray to be filled with Holy Spirit always.

  2. Sean+O’Conaill

    Loneliness is always a mistake, for none of us is unaccompanied, ever.

    Into this river, now, steps again the one intent on raising us to new life.

  3. Soline Humbert

    Quote: “In being received into this family the children become our brothers and sisters in the Lord, sons and daughters of God and temples of the Spirit.” While I deeply value the sacrament of baptism, it has been my profound belief that the children I carried in my womb and gave birth to, were already children of God before their baptism. I carried that profound conviction more than 30 years ago and it remains so today. Below is a poem I wrote after the birth of one of our sons in 1984. The first baptismal waters were my waters. (It was published in the Redemptorist magazine Reality).

    Jonathan Emmanuel

    By Soline Vatinel

    Your father and I were one in love and you became.
    Nine months in the secret of my womb I carried you,
    Your heart beating – a little faster – beneath mine,
    Your hidden presence more and more visible as your
    growing body stretched mine to its fullness,
    Your first move – like a fluttering butterfly – filled me with joyful praise,
    Your dancing made me glad,
    I ached from your thumping and tossing but your stillness made me anxious.
    Your father fondled you through my skin, we talked to you,
    making up imaginary answers.
    You were my constant companion with whom I shared everything – even exams!, so intimate, so close, and yet a stranger within my own flesh,
    Your face unknown – a boy or a girl?
    You kept us guessing – and we guessed wrong!
    As Spring came I grew more and more impatient.
    My arms longed to hold you, my breasts to suckle you and
    my eyes to look into your eyes.
    I started counting the weeks and then the days.
    It seemed an eternity.
    We finally met – so to speak – on a sunny May afternoon,
    when your life sprang forth.
    The storm that shook my body to its roots and tore it apart
    expelled you from your cosy nest. La Deliverance!
    We shared in the same painful drama from which there is no going back.
    But I wonder: did you also share in that infinite joy
    when I held you skin to skin – at last!
    That precious moment which I shall for ever treasure,
    when time stopped and the broken world was made whole again.
    I caught a glimpse of the Incarnation and I named you
    Jonathan Emmanuel!

    (In Hebrew Jonathan means: ‘The Lord has given”, and
    Emmanuel: ‘God with us’)

  4. Seamus+Ahearne

    Soline. I read that poem many years ago, in ‘The Furrow’ (I thought). I found it very appropriate then and still do. My memory may be hazy but I associate the lingering picture in my mind, with a Christmas/Nativity Reflection. The remembering may be faulty but the painting remains vivid. It was precious. It was real. It was and is beautiful. Thank you.

  5. Soline Humbert

    Thank you very much Seamus for your kind words.
    The poem was first published in the newsletter of the Irish Childbirth Trust (1984),but you are more likely to have seen it in Reality (April 1992)!
    Reality was due to publish another poem of mine in 1994, but the editorial board blocked it at the last minute:Ordinatio Sacerdatolis had just been written and the violent coercive silencing had begun.
    Women like me would be allowed to give birth to our children, but not to our ministerial vocations….

  6. Jo O'Sullivan

    I bet I’m not the only person who would love to see Soline’s “Banned” poem here on this page?

  7. Soline Humbert

    #6 just for you Jo!

    A Woman of Sorrow

    An object of curiosity or rejection,
    she hangs,
    bloodied and bruised,
    stripped of her dignity,
    crucified on the cross
    of her calling.

    Above her head it is written:
    ”Woman priest”.
    The blind crowd jeers and mocks,
    spitting God, Scripture and Tradition
    to her face.
    ”God chooses only men”
    ”You’re a neurotic, get your head examined”
    ”You lack humility, you want power”.
    If only she would recant,
    confess her deluded arrogance.
    Many turn away,
    a few stand by her.

    For eighteen years now
    she has been bound,
    her womanhood derided,
    her youthful life ebbing away
    in an endless agony.

    Only silence answers her screaming broken heart.

    Through her tears
    she sees Him at her side
    the loving, gentle Christ
    who called her, still a girl,
    to serve Him.
    Bloodied and bruised,
    crucified on the cross of His calling,
    and yet smiling:
    ”Woman, they did not receive Me,
    and so they do not receive you,
    for they do not love enough”.

    Soline Vatinel (Humbert) 1994.

    Post-scriptum : This could still not be published in Reality in 2021. Pope Francis reaffirmed yesterday the exclusion of women from the ordained ministries. Women will be kept hanging…

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