Feast of the Lord's Baptism

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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord


First Reading

Isaiah 40,1-5.9-11

'Console my people, console them,' says your God. 'Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and cry to her that her period of service is ended, that her guilt has been atoned for, that, from the hand of Yahweh, she has received double punishment for all her sins.' A voice cries, 'Prepare in the desert a way for Yahweh. Make a straight highway for our God across the wastelands. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be levelled, every cliff become a plateau, every escarpment a plain; then the glory of Yahweh will be revealed and all humanity will see it together, for the mouth of Yahweh has spoken.' Go up on a high mountain, messenger of Zion. Shout as loud as you can, messenger of Jerusalem! Shout fearlessly, say to the towns of Judah, 'Here is your God.' Here is Lord Yahweh coming with power, his arm maintains his authority, his reward is with him and his prize precedes him. He is like a shepherd feeding his flock, gathering lambs in his arms, holding them against his breast and leading to their rest the mother ewes.

Psalmody

Psalm 103

Antiphon

How great you are O Lord, our God.

Bless the Lord, my soul!
Lord god, how great you are,

clothed in majesty and glory,
wrapped in light as in a robe!

You stretch out the heavens like a tent.
Above the rains you build your dwelling.

You make the cloud your chariot,
you walk on the wings of the wind,

you make the winds your messengers
and flashing fire your servants.

You founded the earth on its base,
to stand firm from age to age.

You wrapped it with the ocean like a cloak:
the waters stood higher than the mountains.

At your threat they took to flight;
at the voice of your thunder they fled.

They rose over the mountains and flowed down
to the place which you had appointed.

You set limits they might not pass
lest they return to cover the earth.

You make springs gush forth in the valleys:
they flow in between the hills.

They give drink to all the beasts of the field;
the wild-asses quench their thirst.

On their banks dwell the birds of heaven;
from the branches they sing their songs.

From your dwelling you water the hills;
earth drinks its fill of your gift.

You make the grass grow for the cattle
and the plants to serve man's needs,

that he may bring forth bread from the earth
and wine to cheer man's heart;

oil, to make his face shine
and bread to strengthen man's heart.

The trees of the Lord drink their fill,
the cedars he planted on Lebanon;

there the birds build their nests:
on the tree-top the stork has her home.

The goats find a home on the mountains
and rabbits hide in the rocks.

You made the moon to mark the months;
the sun knows the time for its setting.

When you spread the darkness it is night
and all the beasts of the forest creep forth.

The young lions roar for their prey
and ask their food from God.

At the rising of the sun they steal away
and go to rest in their dens.

Man goes forth to his work,
to labour till evening falls.

How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you have made them all.
The earth is full of your riches.

There is the sea, vast and wide,
with its moving swarms past counting,
living things great and small.

The ships are moving there
and the monsters you made to play with.

All of these look to you
to give them their food in due season.

You give it, they gather it up;
you open your hand, they have their fill.

You hide your face, they are dismayed;
you take back your spirit, they die,
returning to the dust from which they came.

You send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord last for ever!
May the Lord rejoice in his works!

He looks on the earth and it trembles;
the mountains send forth smoke at his touch.

I will sing to the Lord all my life,
make music to my God while I live

May my thoughts be pleasing to him.
I find my joy in the Lord.

Let sinners vanish from the earth
and the wicked exist no more.
Bless the Lord, my soul.

Second Reading

Titus 2,11-14; 3,4-7

You see, God's grace has been revealed to save the whole human race; it has taught us that we should give up everything contrary to true religion and all our worldly passions; we must be self-restrained and live upright and religious lives in this present world, waiting in hope for the blessing which will come with the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Christ Jesus. He offered himself for us in order to ransom us from all our faults and to purify a people to be his very own and eager to do good. But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour for humanity were revealed, it was not because of any upright actions we had done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own faithful love that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our Saviour; so that, justified by his grace, we should become heirs in hope of eternal life.

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

Luke 3,15-16.21-22

A feeling of expectancy had grown among the people, who were beginning to wonder whether John might be the Christ, so John declared before them all, 'I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, who is more powerful than me, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Now it happened that when all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in a physical form, like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son; today have I fathered you.'

 

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

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

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

Homily

Today is as if we are led to the banks of the Jordan, where John preached the conversion of hearts and offered a baptism of penance. Many ran to him to be baptized and renew their hearts. They left their homes, they left their usual places and went to that place, which was far from Jerusalem. The spread belief was that there--where the ancient people of Israel had crossed the Jordan into the promised land--that the Lord would again manifest his freeing strength. Luke notes that the entire population was "in waiting." Jesus also left Nazareth to go to there, to listen to the Baptist, and wait the manifestation of God's strength, together with that crowd.
That day Jesus mingled with the people who were crowding on the shore of the river, and got in line like everyone else, waiting for his turn, to receive the baptism of penance. No one realized who the young man coming from Nazareth was. John, whose heart was perfected by prayer and whose eyes were trained by Scriptures, intuited that Jesus was the one sent by God as soon as he saw him approaching and that he was not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals.
Once again Jesus reveals himself in humility. At Christmas both the shepherds and the Magi had seen as a child, defenceless and laying in a manger. This poverty and weakness have not disappeared in the adult Jesus. The humility of the Child did not decrease with age. Luke clarifies the reason: In Nazareth Jesus was certainly growing in age, but also in wisdom and grace listening to the Word and obeying the Father. Jesus was growing well differently from us who generally the more we age, the more we feel strong and independent and able to run our life. In his humility of Son, Jesus received the Spirit who came down on him and took full possession of his heart and mind. While gathered in prayer, Jesus immersed himself in the water almost to the point of disappearing from those present, the heavens opened. It is the moment long awaited by the multitudes of prophets. Isaiah had shouted: "O that you would tear open the heavens and come down!" (63:19). This ancient prayer has been fulfilled: "The heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove" (Lk 3: 21-22). It was the completion of Jesus' prayer to the Father while he was immersing in the water. And the Father responded to him: "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased." The sad heavens of man opened and the new and great plan of God's love for all men and women appeared. Even for Jesus a new time begun. On this feast of the Baptism of Jesus we are invited to immerse ourselves in the plan of Jesus' love. Let us welcome the Spirit of the Lord and let us be led by him to be his disciples wherever he leads us.