Baptism of the Lord

Sunday, January 9

First reading: Is. 42:1–4,6–7

Thus says the LORD: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

Second reading: Acts 10:34–38

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered in the house of Cornelius, saying: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.

You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

Gospel: Lk. 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.”

In other words Fr. Raymun J. Festin, SVD (Rome, Italy)

Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. According to Luke’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit came own on Jesus in bodily form like a dove, and a voice was heard saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The words of the Father to His Son Jesus are full of tenderness, affection, and affirmation. “With you, I am well pleased.”

“I am well pleased with you” is the highest expression of approval a daughter or son can get from her/his parents. It is like saying to a son or daughter, “I am proud that you are my son,” or “I am proud that you are my daughter.” A similar thing obtains in the case of Jesus as God’s Son. During Baptism, the Father tells Jesus, “Son, I am very proud of you.”

In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah prophesied about Jesus when he said, “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased.”

Let’s reflect on a couple of things.

First: The Father was pleased with Jesus because Jesus is a most obedient Son. If there is a virtue that parents appreciate most in their children, it is obedience. For obedience is that special virtue that serves as the foundation of human training and formation. 

Children learn the basic values in life such as charity, humility, kindness, generosity, and respect by obeying their parents. St. Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, said, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.”

Jesus is the model of filial obedience. His whole life is devoted to obeying the will of the Father. In the gospels, we always hear Jesus saying, “I have come to do the will of my Father in heaven.”

Second: When God the Father said to Jesus, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased,” God is also certifying Jesus’ credentials as Divine Son. To use a legal phraseology, the Father is putting a stamp of authenticity on the person of Jesus as the true Son of God.

That is the meaning of Jesus’ baptism: the Holy Spirit confirms Jesus as the Son of God who comes to the world to do the will of the Father.

The words spoken by God the Father to Jesus are reminiscent of the words in Psalm 7:2, “You are my beloved Son, today I have begotten you.” We are also God’s children.

The question that each of us should ask is, “Is the Father in heaven also pleased with me as his son or daughter?” “Would God the Father also say to me, ‘Indeed, you are my beloved, with you I am well pleased?’”

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