The Baptism of the Lord
1) Is 42:1-4, 6-7 or 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm 29:1-4, 9-10 or 104:1-4, 24-25, 27-30
2) Acts 10:34-38 or Ti 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Gospel: Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
As a new year begins, our television, phone and computer screens are flooded with commercials advertising new diets, exercise equipment, gym memberships and self-help books. The start of a new year creates in us a desire to begin anew.
New Year’s resolutions are made in the hope of making better our health, daily habits, relationships and communities. We may have already broken a few resolutions by now, but they motivate our desire for a better world.
A new year also offers a fresh opportunity to renew ourselves spiritually. And among the spiritual resolutions we could make is to strive to live out daily the meaning of our baptism.
We are all called, by virtue of baptism, to ongoing conversion of life, perseverance in prayer and selfless witness to the Gospel in our homes, places of work, neighborhoods and communities of faith.
We live our baptismal vocation at home, in the workplace and in our communities of faith. The renewing strength and wisdom we need to witness to Jesus Christ is rooted in graces we first received at baptism. Living out our baptism can be a good spiritual resolution in this new year.
The feast of the Baptism of Our Lord focuses our gaze on the sacred moment when Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan. Scripture recounts that at his baptism Jesus saw the heavens open, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him, in the form of a dove.
The heavenly voice of God the Father is heard saying, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22). By his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus sanctifies all the waters of baptism.
God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are present at Jesus’ baptism. And our baptism is an invitation into the Trinitarian mystery of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This foundational event in Jesus’ life calls to mind the gift of new life we received at the foundational moment of our baptism.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of baptism as the unrepeatable sacrament of initiation that incorporates a person into new life in the Trinitarian mystery of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose name every Christian is baptized.
At baptism we receive “forgiveness of original sin and all personal sins, birth into the new life by which man becomes an adoptive son of the Father, a member of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit” (No. 1279).
The grace we received at baptism is not a thing of the past, a nice family memory from infancy or childhood. Rather, baptism is the foundation of new life in Jesus Christ lived today and every day in the light of God’s love and mercy. The new year is a perfect time to resolve to rely more on God’s grace, first received at baptism.
Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan began his public ministry as the son of God incarnate whose life, death and resurrection inaugurated the kingdom of God on earth.
Our baptism into Jesus Christ strengthens us with graces for daily conversion of life and Christian witness. As we strive to give joyful and humble witness to our new life in Jesus Christ, the grace of our baptism moves us now to pray, “speak to me, Lord.”
How will you live the meaning of your baptism as you ponder the Baptism of Jesus?
Sullivan is a professor at The Catholic University of America.