Celebrate Sunday Mass - The Baptism of the Lord Jesus in the Jordan - 1.10.21

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1/10/2021 (6 days ago)

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Jan 10, 2021 -- The Baptism of the Lord Jesus in the Jordan 

Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...

I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU AN INVITATION TO SUNDAY MASS ON THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM  OF THE LORD in the Catholic Diocese of Tyler. The response to offering these beautiful liturgies has been overwhelming. The readings, as always, offer so much for us to reflect on. It is helpful to pray through them and reflect upon them before we assist at Holy Mass.

We end the Christmas season this Sunday with the Feast of the Lord's Baptism in the Jordan. The Baptism of the Lord is also called the Theophany, in the Eastern Christian churches, Catholic and orthodox. It is the manifestation of God Himself. Our Gospel at the Liturgy recounts the wondrous revealing of the Holy Trinity. As the Incarnate Word of the Father was immersed in the Waters, the voice of the Father is heard, and the Spirit descends. (Luke 3)

The Theophany has inspired extraordinary reflection in the Tradition. Here is another excerpt from an early homily: "Therefore the Lord Jesus came to baptism and willed to have his body washed with water. Perhaps someone will say: "He who is holy, why did he wish to be baptized?" Pay attention therefore! Christ is baptized, not that he may be sanctified in the waters, but that he himself may sanctify the waters, and by his own purification may purify those streams which he touches".

"For the consecration of Christ is the greater consecration of another element. For when the Savior is washed, then already for our baptism all water is cleansed and the fount purified, that the grace of the laver may be administered to the peoples that come after. Christ therefore takes the lead in baptism, so that Christian peoples may follow after him with confidence." (St. Maximus of Turin, 423 AD)

 In our first reading, the Lord speaks through the great Hebrew Prophet Isaiah, of the coming Messiah. Here, as well as in other prophecies, the Messiah is pictured as the Servant of Yahweh. As Christians, we look back on these prophetic words and see how they were and are fulfilled in Jesus. He is the One promised, the Servant of Yahweh, the One who opens the eyes of the blind, frees prisoners from darkness and set the captives free. He still does that, for all who call on His name, are baptized into His mystical Body, the Church, and follow Him with living faith.

In our Second Reading for Holy Mass, we hear an excerpt from one of the Apostle Peters sermons in which he proclaims that the Gentiles have now been included in the plan of God to save the whole human race through Jesus Christ. Through His Saving Life, death and Resurrection, all men and women can be made new.  The Theophany has inspired extraordinary reflection in the Christian Tradition. Here is another excerpt from an early homily preached on the celebration of this day, explaining its spiritual meaning:

"Therefore, the Lord Jesus came to baptism, and willed to have his body washed with water. Perhaps someone will say: "He who is holy, why did he wish to be baptized?" Pay attention therefore! Christ is baptized, not that he may be sanctified in the waters, but that he himself may sanctify the waters, and by his own purification may purify those streams which he touches".

"For the consecration of Christ is the greater consecration of another element. For when the Savior is washed, then already for our baptism all water is cleansed and the fount purified, that the grace of the laver may be administered to the peoples that come after. Christ therefore takes the lead in baptism, so that Christian peoples may follow after him with confidence. (St. Maximus of Turin, 423 AD)

Our Gospel passage for this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is taken from St Mark. He begins his account with the Baptism of Jesus. The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord marks the beginning of what is called the public ministry of Jesus. He was thirty years old when it happened. The Baptism of Jesus manifests the life of the Holy Trinity to the whole world and opens the door, through Jesus Christ, into a communion, a participation in the life of the Trinity, through Baptism into His Body, the Church. 

The waters of the Jordan are sanctified by the Son and all water is sanctified. Just as the Spirit hovered over the waters of the original creation, the Spirit hovers over the waters where the Son is immersed by John. This deeper significance is the reason of the Baptism of Jesus and its baptismal connection for us is why, in the Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches, the clergy often lead the faithful to rivers and entire rivers are blessed on this day! One of the first elements of creation - water - created by the Father through the Word - is now re-created through the Incarnate Word and becomes the "matter" of the Sacrament of New Life for all men and women.

The Word Incarnate stands in the waters of the earth, which were created through Him, and begins the re-creation of everything. Into these waters, the entire human race is now invited to follow Jesus. What was once the means of God's judgment and purification at the time of Noah, water, now fills the Baptismal fount where men and women are delivered from sin and made new! What the people of Israel passed through in the Exodus, water, every Christian now passes through and is incorporated into the Church, the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ. 

The Church is given new waters for her saving and sanctifying mission. The Trinity, the Communion of Divine persons in perfect unity, is revealed today. In the other Gospel accounts, we are told the Father spoke from heaven and the Spirit descended on the Son. In the great liturgical prayer of the Eastern Church the priest proclaims: "When Thou, O Lord was baptized in the Jordan, the worship of the Trinity was made manifest... O Christ our God who has appeared and enlightened the world, Glory to Thee." 

In his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus is not sanctified for He is without sin. Rather, we are now empowered to become what the tradition calls "sons (and daughters) in the Son" through our own Baptism.

May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world on this Lord's Day.   

Deacon Keith Fournier
Dean of Catholic Online School
Chaplain of Your Catholic Voice Foundation

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