BAPTISM OF OUR LORD + JANUARY 8, 2023
PRAYER OF THE DAY
O God our Father, at the baptism of Jesus you proclaimed him your beloved Son and anointed him with the Holy Spirit. May all who are baptized into Christ be faithful to their calling to be your daughters and sons. Empower us all with your Spirit, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
A READING FROM THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ISAIAH
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching. Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it: I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols. See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.
WE WILL PRAY PSALM 29 RESPONSIVELY
Ascribe to the LORD, you gods, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due God’s name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
The voice of the LORD is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders; the LORD is upon the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is a powerful voice; the voice of the LORD is a voice of splendor.
The voice of the LORD breaks the cedar trees; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
the LORD makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.
The voice of the LORD bursts forth in lightning flashes.
The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the LORD makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare.
And in the temple of the LORD all are crying, “Glory!”
The LORD sits enthroned above the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forevermore.
O LORD, give strength to your people; give them, O LORD, the blessings of peace.
A READING FROM THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Peter began to speak to Cornelius and his household: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who wereoppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
THE HOLY GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW THE THIRD CHAPTER
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
This is one of those passages that seems so out of sync with time and orderly progression, especially after all the stories of Jesus’ birth and the events that naturally followed. In addition, to confuse us even more, this event happens before the passage in Advent we so recently heard, about John’s death. But if we can suspend our need to keep things chronological, we can begin to appreciate why it is placed where it is in Matthew’s
Gospel we are reading this year.
Certainly, we can agree that Jesus had no need of repentance for sin, which is why John hesitates, but, Baptism in his time was multi-functional. Not only for turning away from sin and beginning one’s previous life again, but for an entirely new beginning, a complete change, what the Greeks call: metanoia. Jesus, who previously had lived a quiet, serene life at home in Nazareth, has been moved by the Spirit to begin his life anew, and in the spirit of metanoia, to set aside that simple life, his comfort zone, and embrace his divine destiny, to become Messiah, the Savior of the world. It is a pivotal moment in his life, in John’s and in ours!
It challenges us to periodically assess our life; with gratefulness for all it has been up to that point, and to prayerfully discern what’s next. It may be as simple as planning more healthy habits, or determining that we will “stop and smell the roses”; or it may be an acknowledgement that our core identity is awaiting redefinition, revitalization, and even reinvention. God will call and challenge us throughout our lives, as an intrinsic part of creating us in God’s own image, and even as Jesus embraced his destiny, so must we. Amen