Baptism of the Lord, Year C.

Lk 3: 15-16; 21-22 and Is 42: 1-4, 6-7

Prayer before praying Scripture

Your Word is near, O Lord our God.  Your grace is near.  Come to us then, with mildness and power.  Do not let us be deaf to you, but make us receptive and open to Jesus Christ your Son, who will come to look for us and save us today and every day forever and ever.

Each Sunday it is useful to read all three readings as well as the responsorial psalm.  Frequently there is a link between the texts.  One throws light on another, helping us to deepen our understanding of the Sunday readings.  It is often difficult to take in the readings as they are proclaimed.  By being familiar with the readings of the day we are likely to draw more from them during the Liturgy of the Word.

Take plenty of time to read all texts.  Enjoy their beauty and allow the Word of God to speak to you.

Our story starts when Jesus was a boy growing up in Nazareth.  He passed through the teenage years to adulthood.  As with all of us he grew in maturity.  He came to conclusions about what he saw happening around him.  Jesus experienced a growing close relationship with God, a God who was ‘taking by the hand and forming.’  Now, in his early thirties, he was ready for his mission to preach, teach and heal.  He felt ready to challenge his contemporaries and to take the side of the poor against their oppressors.  He had been waiting on God; or rather God had been waiting on him: waiting for the moment when his heart was broken enough, open enough, to receive the fullness of the Spirit that his Father was wanting to pour out upon him.”1

Please do not read the text as a literal description of what took place.  Luke is using symbolic language to inform us of a profound experience that took place in Jesus’ life.  Jesus had given up his job and left Nazareth determined to become a disciple of John the Baptist.  He was determined to do something for the poor.

“Now when all the people had been baptised.”  With these few words Luke emphatically tells us that Jesus was identifying with the poor, the oppressed, the sinners.  Not convinced!  Look back at the people who Jesus joined for John’s baptism:  7you brood of vipers; 12even tax collectors came; 14soldiers also asked him.   Jesus must often have experienced the burden of helplessness, the pain that he saw around him, and the emptiness of religious practices that left people in their sin and in their misery.  His own experience of God led him to believe that that there had to be a better way.2

“while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened 22and the Holy Spirit descended on him”

Something must have been troubling Jesus.  The baptism was not the high point.  John had already disappeared from the scene. Luke has Herod arrest him in verse 20.  Jesus had heard John’s preaching.  “You brood of vipers. How will you escape when divine punishment comes.”  No doubt, John was a good man.  However this kind of language was hardly Jesus style.  Jesus went off alone to pray, to converse with his God.  “How should he go about his mission?”

It was while he was at prayer that “heaven opened”.  He clearly understood the way forward.  More than that, he came to a deeper realisation of how much God loved him.  Deep within his being he “heard”, “You are my Son, the beloved; my favour rests on you.”

 

This experience was not for Jesus only.  Yes, he was the beloved son of God, and God did delight in him.  He realised that this experience was one that was meant for everyone.  The verdict passed by God on the people of this broken and discouraged world was that each and every person is a son or daughter of God, and that the God who creates us does delight in us.3

PRAYER

Lord, we thank you for deep prayer experiences when we are truly one with Jesus.  They always come to us as your free gift, unexpectedly, after a long struggle.

After having been baptised in the waters of loneliness:

  • Heaven opens;
  • Your  Holy Spirit descends on us;
  • We hear a voice resonating so deeply within us,
  • Telling us, we are members of your personal family,
  • We are beloved and your favour rest forever on us;
  • We are your Sons and Daughters.

Thank you, Lord.

  1. Fallon M,  The Gospel according to Saint Luke, p 77
  2. Fallon M,  The Gospel according to Saint Luke, p 73
  3. Fallon M,  The Gospel according to Saint Luke, p 77
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