Feast of the Lord's Baptism

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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord


First Reading

Isaiah 42,1-4.6-7

Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom my soul delights. I have sent my spirit upon him, he will bring fair judgement to the nations. He does not cry out or raise his voice, his voice is not heard in the street; he does not break the crushed reed or snuff the faltering wick. Faithfully he presents fair judgement; he will not grow faint, he will not be crushed until he has established fair judgement on earth, and the coasts and islands are waiting for his instruction. I, Yahweh, have called you in saving justice, I have grasped you by the hand and shaped you; I have made you a covenant of the people and light to the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to free captives from prison, and those who live in darkness from the dungeon.

Psalmody

Psalm 28

Antiphon

Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.

O give the Lord you sons of God,
give the Lord glory and power;

give the Lord the glory of his name.
Adore the Lord in his holy court.

The Lord's voice resounding on the waters,
The God of glory thunders.
the Lord on the immensity of waters;

The voice of the Lord, full of power,
the voice of the Lord, full of splendour.

The Lord's voice shattering the cedars,
the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon;

He makes Lebanon leap like a calf
and Sirion like a young wild-ox.

The Lord's voice flashes flames of fire.
The Lord's voice shaking the wilderness,

The Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh;
the Lord's voice rending the oak tree and stripping the forest bare.

The Lord sat enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits as king for ever.

The Lord will give strength to his people,
the Lord will bless his people with peace.

In this temple
they all cry : 'Glory!

Second Reading

Acts 10,34-38

Then Peter addressed them, 'I now really understand', he said, 'that God has no favourites, but that anybody of any nationality who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 'God sent his word to the people of Israel, and it was to them that the good news of peace was brought by Jesus Christ -- he is the Lord of all. You know what happened all over Judaea, how Jesus of Nazareth began in Galilee, after John had been preaching baptism. God had anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and because God was with him, Jesus went about doing good and curing all who had fallen into the power of the devil.

Reading of the Gospel

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Glory to God in the highest
and peace on earth to the people he loves.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Matthew 3,13-17

Then Jesus appeared: he came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptised by John. John tried to dissuade him, with the words, 'It is I who need baptism from you, and yet you come to me!' But Jesus replied, 'Leave it like this for the time being; it is fitting that we should, in this way, do all that uprightness demands.' Then John gave in to him. And when Jesus had been baptised he at once came up from the water, and suddenly the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on him. And suddenly there was a voice from heaven, 'This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

In commemorating the Baptism of Jesus, this Sunday's liturgy has us participate in his third epiphany, his third revelation, after the first to the shepherds on Christmas' night and the second to the wise men in the Epiphany.
The evangelist Matthew writes that Jesus left Nazareth and "came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him." And he mixed in with the people who were coming together to wait for salvation, to bring righteousness and justice to all. He stood in line to be baptized when it was his turn. In this behaviour, we can already see Jesus' humility, the humility that would characterize the one sent by God, as Isaiah writes, "He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break." Jesus immediately presents himself as a man among the people. He does not ask for privileges and he does not push others around. He waits for the salvation of Israel along with everyone else. But John, whose heart had been refined by prayer and whose eyes had been trained by Scripture recognized Jesus as the one sent by God as soon as he arrived, despite the fact that he was standing with everyone else in the crowd. He did not want to baptize him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But he had to give in to Jesus' insistence.
This memorial helps us better understand what we learned as children, that is, that baptism is the first of the sacraments, the one that frees us from being alone, immerses us in the baptism of Jesus, and makes us a part of his people. No one can baptize him or herself. No one can give him or herself the Spirit and the grace of the Lord. Jesus himself, with the humility of a Son, allowed the Spirit to descend upon him, and in that moment - the evangelist notes - "the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him." Jesus' baptism reminds us that the heavens were opened to us, too, and the Spirit of the love of God enveloped us.
Whether we receive baptism as children or adults, it is always a gift; it is always a grace that we freely receive from on high. It is the Lord who chooses us, before we choose him. And the Lord does not choose us because of our merits, our works, or the great or small accomplishments that we might take pride in. God has freely chosen us through an act of love. And God always loves us, even when we do not realize it. It is a free and eternal love. We can stray from God, forget him, or even offend him. But the Lord will never forget us. That is why Baptism cannot be repeated. It is an eternal, loving word spoken by God to us.
Baptism makes us a part of the people that God has chosen to proclaim the Gospel of love to all the peoples of the earth. On this feast of the Baptism of the Jesus, the Lord frees us from our love for ourselves and immerses us in his plan of love. We have been baptized in the baptism of Jesus, that is to say that our baptism is more his than ours. Looking at the Son and all of us beside him, the heavenly Father again says, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."