The Baptism of the Lord
The gospel passage today stands at the very beginning of St. Mark’s account and is typical of the evangelist’s direct, reverent style. We will hear readings from this gospel, widely accepted as the first of the four canonical gospels, throughout this liturgical year.
Today, on the feast of The Baptism of the Lord, Mark’s dramatic and powerful account of Jesus’ mission begins.
Unlike the other gospels, there is no introduction to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, no annunciation account, no visitation, no birth narrative, no details about Jesus’ hidden life in Nazareth.
In Mark’s account, we first meet Jesus as a young adult. He has come from Nazareth south to the borders of the Judean desert, where the prophet John the Baptist is challenging people to repent, urging them to wash their lives clean in the waters of the Jordan River. While large crowds come from nearby Jerusalem, drawn by John’s magnetic force,
the focus falls on a single pilgrim from Galilee in the north, Jesus of Nazareth.
Mark tells us that
John anticipates the appearance of this “stronger one” who will bring a baptism not just of water, but of the “Holy Spirit.”
Jesus, the holy one of God, has come and, in a spirit of solidarity with his people, plunges into the Jordan as a sign of beginning a new life.
It is there that the comparison of Jesus with the others who flock to John ends. In short, quick strokes, Mark describes Jesus entering the Jordan - the river that the Israelites crossed on their way to the promised land. As he comes up out of the waters of the Jordan,
the heavens are torn open and the Spirit of God descends upon Jesus, suffusing him with God’s own power. At that moment, the voice of God booms across the heavens: “You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.”
The evangelist shares with the readers and hearers of his gospel what is still unknown to the crowds.
From the outset, we learn of Jesus’ true identity as the beloved Son of God
, the “strong one” who is filled with the Spirit of God, and who immediately begins his mission of healing, confronting evil, and bringing justice. He is one who ultimately will give his very life for the sake of his people.
The other Scripture readings for this Sunday anticipate this dramatic scene. Isaiah transmits the word of the Lord about his “chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my Spirit.” He is the one “who shall bring forth justice to the nations,” who will “open the eyes of the blind, bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon those who live in darkness.”
The responsorial psalm praises God whose “voice . . . is over the waters, the Lord, over vast waters. The voice of the Lord is mighty; the voice of the Lord is majestic.” This is the same voice that thundered over the Jordan in the gospel scene.
The second reading is from a key turning-point in the Acts of the Apostles when Peter baptizes the Roman centurion Cornelius and his household. They are the first Gentiles to be incorporated into the Christian community, the first fruits of Jesus’ universal mission.
Ancient Judaism understood well
the symbolic meaning of cleansing with water as a sign of a renewed life.
Devout Jews performed ritual cleansings before prayer or before entering the temple.
The members of the dedicated Jewish community at Qumran, not far from where John performed his baptism, took ritual baths several times a day to maintain their sense of dedication to God alone as they prayed for the coming of the Messiah.
Yet the gospels portray Jesus’ baptism as something new and wholly different. It is a sign of renewal and dedication, yes, but, as Mark’s gospel describes,
it is a disclosure of Jesus’ true identity as the Son of God and the anointed vessel of the Holy Spirit.
It is another epiphany or manifestation.
Jesus’ baptism foreshadows our own baptism where we are fashioned as daughters and sons of God, filled with God’s Spirit and commissioned to bring God’s love and justice to the world. This feast invites us to think of the very foundations of our faith as Christians - our belief in Jesus as the Son of God, our recognition of ourselves as the Spirit-filled children of God, a holy people reborn in the saving waters of baptism.
Anne Osdiek writes:
John baptized Jesus with water.
The Spirit broke through Earth’s boundaries,
rushed into the world of time,
and told our universe again
that God is with us.
Spirit of holiness and life,
tear open the heavens.
Break through our set-in-stone boundaries,
and descend into the depths of our hearts.
Pour rivers of grace on all of us. Amen.
Hoy, en la fiesta del Bautismo del Señor, comienza el dramático y poderoso relato de Marcos sobre la misión de Jesús. A diferencia de los otros evangelios, no hay una introducción al comienzo del ministerio público de Jesús, no hay relato de la anunciación, no hay visitación, no hay narración del nacimiento, no hay detalles sobre la vida oculta de Jesús en Nazaret.
En el relato de Marcos, conocemos a Jesús por primera vez como un joven adulto. Ha venido desde Nazaret al sur hasta las fronteras del desierto de Judea, donde el profeta Juan el Bautista está desafiando a las personas al arrepentimiento, instándolas a lavar sus vidas en las aguas del río Jordán.
Marcos describe a Jesús entrando en el Jordán, el río que cruzaron los israelitas en su camino a la tierra prometida. Al salir de las aguas del Jordán, los cielos se abren y el Espíritu de Dios desciende sobre Jesús, llenándolo del propio poder de Dios. En ese momento, la voz de Dios resuena a través de los cielos: “Tú eres mi Hijo amado; contigo estoy muy complacido."
Aprendemos de la verdadera identidad de Jesús como el amado Hijo de Dios, el "fuerte" que está lleno del Espíritu de Dios y que inmediatamente comienza su misión de curar, enfrentar el mal y traer justicia. Él es uno que finalmente dará su vida por el bien de su pueblo.
El bautismo de Jesús presagia nuestro propio bautismo, en el que somos formados como hijas e hijos de Dios, llenos del Espíritu de Dios y comisionados para llevar el amor y la justicia de Dios al mundo. Esta fiesta nos invita a pensar en los fundamentos mismos de nuestra fe como cristianos: nuestra creencia en Jesús como el Hijo de Dios, nuestro reconocimiento de nosotros mismos como hijos de Dios llenos del Espíritu, un pueblo santo renacido en las aguas salvadoras del bautismo.
St. Joseph's Church Downtown is open with the usual schedule of weekday and weekend Masses, sacraments, and ministry. Because of increased coronavirus cases locally, social distancing, hand-sanitizing, and the use of a face mask are observed during church services, in order to keep everyone safe and healthy.
Receiving Holy Communion
In keeping with the Covid-19 protocols of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, Holy Communion is to be received reverently in the hand at this time. Unless you are members of the same household, you are asked to keep social distancing of six feet between yourself and others. Please sanitize your hands before coming forward to receive the Body of Christ.
Virtual classes are now being conducted on Thursday evenings from 6:30-7:30. If you have not registered your child(ren) and wish to do so, please call Beatrice Bailey at 210-227-0126, ext. 210.
Catholic Young Adult Group
St. Joseph's is starting a Young Adult Group beginning February 5. The meetings will run from 6:30-8:30 pm, beginning with 30 minutes of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a time of quiet in the presence of Christ. This will be followed by a group discussion focused on Catholic theology, the lives of the saints, Catholic books or videos, with dinner afterward. Please see upcoming bulletins for contact details and further information.
Videos of Masses
Videos of Sunday and other Masses from St. Joseph's are posted on YouTube at the St. Joseph Church Downtown Media page and on the parish website, thanks to The Strelchun Family and John Francis.
Supporting St. Joseph Church Downtown
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Anthony Schueller SSS
on Sunday, January 10 at 10:21PM