Reflections for Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Baptism of the Lord

Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion

(Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7; Psalm 29:1-4,9-10; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3:13-17)
View NAB Reading at USCCB.org

At Jesus’ Baptism, The Sinless One is One With Us

esus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan. (Matthew 3:13)

It’s a big day! After thirty hidden years in Nazareth, Jesus the Messiah is on the move, going public with his mission to heal and save. As John baptizes him in the Jordan, Jesus is revealed as Savior, Suffering Servant, and “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Today the heavens open, the Father speaks, the Spirit descends—the whole Trinity is revealed. No wonder artists who have painted this scene tend to fill it with rays of light, glowing doves, and clouds of angels!

There’s something else going on here, though, that is harder to paint. That’s because it has to do with humility.

Consider John. Here’s a man with a clear understanding of his mission. He’s a herald preparing the way for someone “mightier” (Matthew 3:11). He is the best man and not the bridegroom. Then suddenly, the Messiah shows up, and John is taken aback. You can almost hear his mind racing, as he tries to prevent Jesus from going ahead: This can’t be what God wants! I’m not worthy. I need your baptism, not vice versa (Matthew 3:14). Yet even in his confusion, John is humble enough to grasp that God’s plan may be different from what he thinks. At a word from Jesus, he accepts a role he never sought.

And who can fathom the depths of Jesus’ humility? Consider him there, looking like just another penitent in the crowd. Out of love, the sinless One joins with sinners—with us—to show that he is truly “God with us,” even in our repentance. For the rest of his days on earth, he will continue to be one like us.

Last year, Pope Francis told a group of priests that shepherds should have “the smell of their sheep.” Jesus, mingling with the lost and needy sheep at the Jordan, shows us what that means. So never forget that whatever your “odor,” Jesus is not put off. He is, and always will be, God with you.

Who am I, Lord, that you would offer me so much? Jesus, teach me to be like you!”

(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)

Questions for Reflection/Discussion

  1. In the first reading, Isaiah prophetically speaks of the coming of Christ, the chosen servant who is pleasing to God. It also speaks of his ministry, “To open the eyes of the blind, bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” How do these works of Jesus apply to your life?
  2. The responsorial psalm reminds us of our duty to God to give the Lord the glory and praise that he is due. What are the ways that you fulfill this call? Is there more you could do?
  3. In the second reading from Acts, Peter speaks of the truth that “God shows no partiality.” He goes on to say that “whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” Are there people in your parish, or groups, races, religions, nations you instinctively disregard? In light of these verses, how is the Lord asking you to relate to them?
  4. As a “beloved” Son, Jesus in today’s Gospel shows his obedience to the Father by fulfilling what was required of him. Through Jesus, who dwells in you, do you see yourself as a beloved son/daughter of your Father in heaven? Why or why not? What is God asking of you as a “beloved” son/daughter?
  5. The meditation quotes Pope Francis as telling a group of priests that shepherds should have “the smell of their sheep.” What do you think this means? How does it apply to you?
  6. Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord to transform you more and more into his likeness. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.


These reflection questions are provided courtesy of The Word Among Us.

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