Thoughts on the Readings for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (C) 2019

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link below or copy and past it into your browser: https://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/011319.cfm 

This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.   Now, to some it might seem strange that we celebrate this Feast so soon after we have celebrated Christ’s birth, especially since the scriptures tell us that Christ was baptized as an adult at the beginning of his public ministry.   The reality is, though, that other than the infancy narratives and the story of the finding of Jesus in the Temple, we really have no information about Christ’s early life.   When you stop and think about it, this is as it should be.  What is important about Christ is not any stories about his early life, but rather the stories about his preaching, teaching, miracles and ministry.  

This weekend we read the story of Jesus’ baptism from the Gospel of Luke.  The first section of this Gospel is a summary of the mission of John the Baptist:  “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.”   The second section of this Gospel records Jesus’ baptism.  We are told simply that after he had been baptized, “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.’”   Interestingly, in Mark and Luke the voice from heaven is addressed to Jesus personally, whereas in Matthew the voice is addressed to the surrounding crowds.   (John records Jesus baptism indirectly, though the words of John the Baptist.)

There are two choices for our first reading this weekend.  At the Basilica we will be using Isaiah 42: 1-4; 6-7.   The section we read this Sunday is part of what is know as the Songs of the Suffering Servant.   It is God’s promise to send a “servant” who will be filled with God’s Spirit.   We would see this as prefiguring Christ.   

We also have a choice for our second reading today.   At the Basilica we will read from the Acts of the Apostles.  In this reading Peter boldly proclaims:  “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” 

Questions for Reflection/Discussion: 

  1. Have you attended a baptism recently?   What do you remember about it? 
  2. How would you explain baptism to a non-Christian? 
  3. If God, shows “no partiality” why is baptism important?  
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