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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

Last Sunday we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, where Jesus made Himself known as God to the Magi who represent all peoples or nations of the earth. Today we celebrate another occasion in the life of Jesus that the Church considers an Epiphany or event where Christ reveals Himself as fully God to man, that of the Baptism of Our Lord by his cousin John The Baptist.

In today’s Gospel we read that “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”” (Matthew 3:16-17) These two verses of Holy Scripture are an epiphany or revelation to man of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, one God in three persons.

Some may wonder why Jesus, who is without sin, is in need of baptism. He is not. Jesus entered the waters, allowing Himself to be baptized in order to model for us the way to draw near to him through baptism. By doing this Jesus empowered the water to no longer just be an outward sign, but actually a means by which the Holy Spirit comes to live within each of us. With this act, Jesus sanctifies the water and initiates the Sacrament of Baptism.

Last year I wrote about this feast using the 2010 Liturgical Year C Gospel reading of Luke 3:15-16; 21-22. This year our readings are from Liturgical Year A where we read of the Baptism of Our Lord from the Gospel of Matthew 3:13-17. What does this mean to read from Year A or Year C?

In the Roman Catholic Liturgical Calendar we have a designated reading for each Sunday of the year. These readings come from a book called a Lectionary. The Church divides up the Gospels into a three year cycle. In Year A the Gospel readings will be primarily from Matthew, Year B Mark and Year C Luke. We hear most of the Gospel of John each year during the Seasons of Lent and Easter. So, if a person were to attend Mass faithfully each Sunday for three years in a row, they would hear almost all of the Holy Scripture, especially the Gospels.

What a glorious Church God has given us.
Thanks be to God.

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Predella: Baptism of Christ - Bartolomeo DiGiovanni
Baptism of  Christ - Fra Anglico
Baptism of Christ - Perugino & Pinturicchio (Cappella Sistina, Vatican)

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