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Bulletin: January 9, 2022

The Baptism of the Lord

The Advent/Christmas cycle that began on November 28 ends with the Baptism of the Lord. We likely have an image in our minds (based on details from the Gospels and works of art) of what that scene looked like. We might wonder, "Who else was there and who wasn't?" No disciples were present because Jesus had not yet begun his ministry. They would have to wait until the Transfiguration to hear a similar message. However, the three persons of the Blessed Trinity are accounted for: the Father (the voice from heaven), the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, Luke alone notes that it was after Jesus had been baptized and while he was praying that the voice was heard. All of the Gospels show Jesus praying at turning points in his ministry; this is but the first example of Jesus' need to root himself in prayer throughout his life--a model for us to follow.


It was on the Fourth Sunday of Advent this past December that we first heard of the two cousins, John and Jesus, meeting. Then it was in the womb of their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary. Now the cousins meet again on the shore of the Jordan River. John is already well known--so much so that people had begun to wonder if he was the long-awaited Messiah. Jesus, on the other hand, is about to begin his ministry. One could say that Jesus entered the waters of the Jordan as a private person and came out of them as a public one. The voice from heaven left no doubt about that. As we come to the end of the Christmas season our readings echo Isaiah and Titus (see Advent and Christmas Day readings) and together with today's Psalm 104 they point us to Pentecost. We are on the cusp of a new creation.


John the Baptist was what we might call today a "social influencer." People paid attention to what he had to say. And what he said affected the choices people made. Yet today's Gospel reminds us of John the Baptist's ultimate goal: "One mightier than I is coming." The Baptizer walks the fine line between drawing attention to himself with his fiery preaching and then re-directing that attention to Jesus, the "beloved Son." John the Baptist could be considered the "patron saint" of those who minister as lectors, extraordinary ministers of the eucharist, cantors, greeters, acolytes, and musicians. Isn't John's teaching a good goal for a liturgical (or any!) minister? Rooted in the graces of their own baptism, ministers must be skilled and confident enough to draw people's attention (or, at least, not turn them off!) and then gradually re-focus that attention on Jesus. It is a dynamic and awesome responsibility.

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