John the Baptist would cry out as he preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” He did not dress in fine clothing adorned with beautiful jewelry. Instead he wore clothing that had been made of camel hair with a leather belt clasped around his waist. Yet people came from all over Judea to listen to his sermons and to be baptized by him.
John is the man whose purpose in the ministry of Jesus was written about by the prophet Isaiah. “A voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.’” But John was not boastful. He knew his work was only the beginning of a special work of God.
Although many people loved John, not everyone did. A group of Pharisees and Sadducees were in one of the crowds that had come to hear John. When John saw them, he called out to them. “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. … Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” John knew his words would anger his critics, but he was committed to serving God. “I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,” he said, “but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” He was talking about Jesus.
On a day like many others, John was baptizing people in the Jordan River. Jesus was in line to be baptized. When he stood in front of John, John said, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” Jesus nodded and answered, “Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” So John baptized Jesus. As soon as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended on Jesus in the form of a dove. A voice from the sky declared, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” After his baptism, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert where he was tempted by the devil. He triumphed over temptation by relying on the Scriptures, and then angels came and ministered to him.
READ MORE ABOUT IT:<BR> Matthew 3
1. What did John say Jesus would be baptized people with?
2. What happened in the heavens after Jesus was baptized?
After Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers preached about Jesus and his love. In the Book of Acts, chapter 2, the apostles received the power of the Holy Spirit to help them. When Peter invited people to become Christians, he established baptism as one of the sacraments of initiation into the church when he said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” Before Jesus began his own ministry, he was baptized by John, setting the example for all of us. The second sacrament of initiation is Eucharist, where we partake of the body and blood of Christ, which was given for us when he died on the cross. The third sacrament of initiation is confirmation, where we receive the Holy Spirit to help us with our own ministries and daily Christian lives.
Although there are conflicting accounts of the life of St. Ita (d. 570), scholars generally agree that she is one of the favorite saints from Ireland and that she was born into a royal family. A nobleman wanted her to become his wife, but Ita instead chose to live a life of prayer, fasting, and service to God and her community. She formed a community of maidens in Limerick County and she also established a school for boys. One of the students that passed through her school was a boy named Brendan, who grew up to be a celebrated abbot and missionary. Many miracles also are attributed to Ita. We remember her on Jan. 15.