Baptism Of The Lord – Year C
January 9, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Isaiah 42:1-4;6-7 | Psalm 104:1-4;24-25;27-30
Acts 10:34-26 | Luke 3:15;21-22

 +In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

 Happy baptism!  As we are invited today to attend one of the most sacred events in the life of Jesus: to celebrate Theophany, or His baptism, officiated by John the Baptist we are jubilant and reverent.   Theophany comes from the Greek word for the appearance of God.  In the Old Testament, God is depicted as appearing in human form or in natural cataclysms, in a burning bush, a cloud, or a gentle breeze.  These  forms are associated with the divine “name” or “glory.”  The mark of biblical theophanies is the temporariness and suddenness of the appearance of God.  In the New Testament, the Baptism and transfiguration of Jesus are considered by many scholars to be a theophany as well as an epiphany. The incarnation of Jesus is the ultimate and fullest form of divine manifestation in the entire spectrum of theophanies.

So, returning to Jesus and John the Baptist, the central figures of today’s readings,  was this the first meeting of these two?  The answer is “No,” as they met while each was unborn in the womb of their prospective mothers, Mary and Elizabeth.  It was during the visit of Mary with her cousin Elizabeth which we focused on for the fourth Sunday of Advent last month.

Why did Jesus get baptized?  Since Jesus was without sin as God’s only Son, there was no reason for Him to receive forgiveness.  And in the Gospel of Matthew, John was reluctant to even baptize Jesus as he did not feel that he was worthy of doing so since Jesus was Divine.  Jesus wanted to be baptized in order to be more human-like we are and to show His obedience to the will of God, His Father.  Jesus’ baptism is the first public act of His ministry and it shows Him as the promised Messiah.

There are many similarities between John the Baptist and the Old Testament prophet, Elijah.

–Both spent time in the wilderness

–Both wore simple clothing: (John wore a tunic with a leather belt and Elijah wore a  garment of haircloth and a leather belt

–Both were outspoken and often offended people

–Both preached about God

The importance of these similarities gives us an insight into Jesus.  The Jewish people believed that Elijah was expected to return to earth for a second time to announce the coming of the Messiah.  So if John the Baptist was Elijah returned to earth, it stands to reason that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah.

In our first reading from Isaiah, we hear the first of four Servant Songs in which the Israelites are called to be the servants of Yahweh.  As the people of Israel return home after their exile, the prophet reminds them of their calling to be servants of God, bringing His blessings, promises, and glory to all nations of the world.

This reading speaks to our Gospel today from Luke regarding the baptism of Jesus.  “Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove.”

The dove represents God’s creation, blessing, and peace.  It descends from heaven and rests on Jesus.  And the voice of God thunders from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, with you, I am well pleased.”

When God speaks over Jesus during His baptism, two Old Testament texts are referenced.  The first is Psalm 2, the psalm that celebrates the coronation of the King of Israel:  “This is my Son, the Beloved. “  This is our affirmation of identity and relationship since, in baptism, we are named and claimed as beloved children of God.

The second reference is from Isaiah 42 which we read today:  “With you I am well pleased.”  This is God’s call to us at baptism:  to take up the work of the Servant of the Lord, Jesus Christ.  The main responsibilities of the Servant of God are to bring forth justice and to be a light to the world.  This is a metaphor meaning God wants Jesus to influence the world through His life, His works, and His ministry.  Jesus is called to live His life for others as His divine vocation.  It is also our call on this day of baptism remembrance.

In today’s second reading from Acts, Peter addresses the gathering of people by explaining that it does not matter to God what your nationality might be, it does not matter whether you are Jewish or Gentile, the only thing that matters to God is your attitude and actions.  Peter tells us that Gospel is for everyone.  This text is appropriate for the Baptism of the Lord Sunday since it refers to John’s mission to baptize and also to God’s anointing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit.

In today’s Gospel, St. Luke speaks of two baptisms.  The first is that of Jesus and the second one is for us when we will receive our baptism “with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Breanna had a theophany when she chose to be baptized today at eighteen years of age.  God reached out to her and today, Breanna will be saved, renewed, justified, and be made an heir of the Kingdom of God.  She will be known as belonging to the community of disciples of which Jesus is the Master or King.  Through baptism, Breanna will be transformed, just as we were transformed, in an experience where God lives in us and we live in God.  She will love her life like we do, as a disciple of Jesus.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father,

We thank you for the precious gift of baptism; that we can publicly declare our love and passion for you.

We ask for your goodness and blessings to be poured out on this faithful servant, Breanna.

We pray that you work deeply within her heart and soul to renew and refresh her each day.

Guide her footsteps and give her hope and vision for the future.

This we ask in Jesus’ name.