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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Baptism of the Lord (A)

1st Reading (Isa 42:1-4.6-7): Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

I, the Lord, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
Responsorial Psalm: 28
R/. The Lord will bless his people with peace.
Give to the Lord, you sons of God, give to the Lord glory and praise, give to the Lord the glory due his name; adore the Lord in holy attire.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the Lord, over vast waters. The voice of the Lord is mighty; the voice of the Lord is majestic.

The God of glory thunders, and in his temple all say, “Glory!”. The Lord is enthroned above the flood; the Lord is enthroned as king forever.
2nd Reading (Acts 10:34-38): Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered in the house of Cornelius, saying: «In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.

»You know the word that he sent to the Israelites as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all, what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him».
Versicle before the Gospel (Cf. Mk 1:11): Alleluia. The heavens were opened and the voice of the Father thundered: This is my beloved Son, listen to him. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 3,13-17): At that time Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, and said, «How is it you come to me: I should be baptized by you!». But Jesus answered him, «Let it be like that for now that we may fulfill the right order». John agreed. As soon as he was baptized, Jesus came up from the water. At once, the heavens opened and he saw the Spirit of God come down like a dove and rest upon Him. At the same time a voice from heaven was heard, «This is my Son, the Beloved; he is my Chosen One».

«Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, we contemplate the Messiah —the Anointed— by the river Jordan «to be baptized by him [John]» (Mt 3:13). And we can see Jesus Christ as betokened by the visible physical occurrence of the Holy Spirit and, through audible words, by the Father, who proclaims of Jesus the following: «This is my Son, the Beloved; he is my Chosen One» (Mt 3:17). Here, we have a marvelous motive and, at the same time, an encouraging incentive to live a life: to be beloved and chosen by the Heavenly Father. To enthrall the Father!

Somehow, we already request it in the collect prayer of today's mass: «Almighty and eternal God (...), turn us from the darkness of sin to the light of holiness, that we may be ready to meet you in our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ». God, who is infinitely good, “loves us well” all the time. But, do we allow him to?; are we worthy of his divine benevolence?; do we correspond to this benevolence?

To deserve such divine benevolence and complacence, Christ has provided the waters with a regenerating and purifying strength, so that, when baptized, we truly become sons of God. «Maybe someone will wonder: ‘why did He want to be baptized, if He is Holy? Our Divine Lord Jesus Christ was baptized not to be made holy by the waters, but to make holy the waters’» (St Maximus of Turin).

All this —undeservedly! — places us in a connatural level with divinity. But this first regeneration does not suffice: we need to experience the Baptism once more through a kind of continuous “second baptism”, which is our spiritual rebirth. Parallel to the Rosary's first Mystery of Light —Christ's Baptism in the Jordan river— we must contemplate Mary's example in the fourth Joyful Mystery: Purity of Heart. She, Immaculate, and a pure virgin, is quite willing to submit herself to the purification process. We crave for the simplicity, sincerity and humility that allow us to constantly live our purification as a sort of “second baptism”.