Sunday, January 10, 2010

You Are My Beloved Son, In Whom I Am Well Pleased!

The Baptism of the Lord
Reading I                 Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins.

A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be filled in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!

Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by a strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.

Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.


Today’s First Reading is taken from the latter part of the Book, recognized as the work of a writer known as “Second Isaiah”, and accepted in both Hebrew and Christian tradition as divinely inspired. The figurative language here describes the actual return of the Hebrew exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem. It is the Lord who leads them, and their journey is made easy for them, a pilgrimage of return to the place where the Lord dwells, in his Holy Temple.

The Gospels see in these verses a prophecy of John the Baptizer: a voice crying out in the desert: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his path. … Then, the glory of the Lord will be revealed, for the Lord has spoken.”

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Responsorial          Psalm 29
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God,
give to the LORD glory and praise,
Give to the LORD the glory due his name;
adore the LORD in holy attire.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters,
the LORD, over vast waters.
The voice of the LORD is mighty;
the voice of the LORD is majestic.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
The God of glory thunders,
and in his temple all say, “Glory!”
The LORD is enthroned above the flood;
the LORD is enthroned as king forever.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.
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Reading II             Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
The grace of God has appeared, saving all
nd training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires
and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age,
as we await the blessed hope,
the appearance of the glory of our great God
and savior Jesus Christ,
who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness
and to cleanse for himself a people as his own,
eager to do what is good.

When the kindness and generous love
of God our savior appeared,
not because of any righteous deeds we had done
but because of his mercy,

He saved us through the bath of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
whom he richly poured out on us
through Jesus Christ our savior,
so that we might be justified by his grace
and become heirs in hope of eternal life.


One of the principal themes in the Letter of Titus is the constant appeal to God’s revelation of salvation in Christ, with its insistence upon transformation of life. “The blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our God and savior Jesus Christ” is brought about not by any righteous deeds of ours, but because of God’s mercy. Our salvation is granted “through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit”, that is, through our baptism. Through it we become justified not by our deeds, but by God’s grace, and become co-heirs with Christ in hope of eternal life.
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Gospel                  Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”


The people who came to the Jordan to be baptized by John wondered whether he might be the promised Messiah. John, on the other hand, is well aware of his own mission: in contrast to John’s baptism with water, as a sign of repentance, “one mightier than I is coming” and “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” From the perspective of the early Christian community, the Spirit and fire understood in the light of the symbolism of the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). But in the present moment, John’s preaching of the Spirit and fire should be related to their purifying and refining characteristics.

This gospel concludes after John has completed his mission: the people have been baptized and Jesus has received John’s baptism – in solidarity with his human brothers and sisters, since He has no need of repentance and forgiveness of sin. Now, while Jesus is spending some moments in prayer and meditation, the heavens are opened, the Holy Spirit descends upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and the voice of God is heard from heaven: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This concluding episode focuses on the heavenly message which identifies Jesus as the Son of God, and, by its reference to Isaiah 42:1, as the Servant of the LORD. The relationship of Jesus to the Father was already announced in the infancy gospel. Here, it occurs at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee, and will appear again later in Luke’s writings: when Jesus reads in the synagogue “The spirit of the Lord has been given to me; he has anointed me”; when He is transfigured before Peter, John and James (9:35), and in Acts 10:38, when Peter describes the Baptism of Jesus to Cornelius.

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From the very moment of his baptism, Jesus was revealed as the one who came to baptize humanity in the Holy Spirit. He came to give men and women life in abundance, eternal life, which brings the human being back to life, and heals him entirely, in body and spirit, restoring him to the original plan for which he was created.

The purpose of Christ’s existence was precisely to give humanity God’s life and his Spirit of love so that every person might be able to draw from this inexhaustible source of salvation.

Pope Benedict XVI.

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