The Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C Scripture Readings First : Isaiah 42:1-4,6-7 Second: Acts 10:34-38 Gospel: Luke

3:15-16, 21-22. Prepared by: Fr. Stephen Dominic Hayes, OP 1. Subject Matter
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January 10, 2010

The Baptism of the Lord stands between Christmastide and Ordinary Time; liturgically, it functions as the first Sunday in Ordinary Time, but at the same time it celebrates one of those three manifestations which are central to the meditation on the feast of the Epiphany: the showing forth of the presence of God to the Magi, at the wedding feast of Cana, and at the Baptism. In celebration of the Lord's baptism brings home to us the personal benefit that has been given to each of us in our new relationship to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit in the sacrament of our regeneration, which has its own origins in the theophany at the Jordan by the revelation of the Messiah which is the subject of today's celebration. On this day, the theophany at the Jordan reveals Christ in a double light. First of all, he is revealed as the eternal Son of the Father, and the one upon whom the Spirit of the Father continually comes to rest. This is the first explicit revelation of the inner life of the one God worshipped of old by Israel as that of a Holy Trinity of Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Secondly, the one who was called "Son" by the Father, and upon whom the Holy Spirit of God descends is also a son of Adam, possessing a full human nature of soul and body. Does Jesus is not only revealed as Son of God and a number of the Holy Trinity, but specifically and publicly as the "Anointed One" of God, the Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ(Greek); today the Spirit comes to rest on a human being in a way different than upon the prophets; the Spirit is in Christ's own possession, to give to others as he wills. The Old Testament reading is from Deutero- Isaiah, and represents the first song of the mysterious Suffering Servant. of the Lord. The Servant has a kingly quality; he is a "Chosen One"; who brings forth justice and yet, also teaches the law of God. He performs his service not by forcing the people into obedience to God, but by their inner transformation. Verses six through seven devotes a Messiah who gently leads his people into spiritual vision, and out of the darkness that has imprisoned them. The servant himself will be a "covenant" with the nations - something which can imply the shedding of blood as the steel which makes a covenant effective and binding, and he will bring out the victory of justice - a phrase that

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2. Exegetical Notes
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recalls Jesus' words to the Baptist in Matthews account of the Baptism, given for now, that all righteousness may be accomplished.
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The Book of Acts places us with Peter in the house of Cornelius the Centurion, the house of pagans who, at this preaching of Peter, received gifts of the Holy Spirit prior to their baptism. Peter confesses that God shows no partiality between Jew and Greek, that all nations are acceptable to him as they come to him through Jesus Christ and the peace he has made in himself. A close connection is made between the gift of faith poured out in righteousness, whether through a natural conscience, or the law of Moses, and a willingness to accept Christ, his church, and his baptism. Luke s Gospel, in continuity with the other Synoptic authors, gives us an account of Jesus Baptism at the Jordan River. There are, however, however difference s peculiar to Luke's narrative. First of all, the story of John the Baptist's imprisonment is told prior to the account of the Baptism itself, and unlike Matthew, Luke does not have any dialogue between Jesus and the Baptist. This tends to distance Jesus from the work of the Baptist, and set him centerstage, without suggesting that the Baptist is greater than Christ, or the Christ needed repentance - two theological questions about the baptism which the other synoptic authors handle in different ways. A second difference is that in the heavens are seen to open while Jesus is praying - a theme that appears again in Luke's account of the Transfiguration - and places the revelation of Christ's Sonship squarely in the middle of Jesus' own relationship with his Father through prayer. Finally, the Holy Spirit manifest a very specific and visible manifestation; Mark mentions that the Spirit descended "like a dove"; Luke emphasizes that the spirit manifested as a dove - possibly to invoke images of the Spirit hovering over the primeval abyss in Genesis 1, or the dove descending upon Noah after the flood; and even the overshadowing of Mary in Luke's Annunciation narrative. In any case, a firm connection is made between the overshadowing Spirit in the sign of Christ's baptism. In these Synoptic accounts of the Baptism of the Lord, the reality of the inner life of God - the three divine Persons of the holy Trinity are explicitly manifested; in the tradition of the Eastern Church, the Icon of the Holy Baptism of the Lord, which is based on the Synoptic accounts, is understood to manifest the eternal relationships of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in an explicit and theologically correct manner. In the waters of the Jordan, the Divine Person of the Son, who is taken by human nature to himself, now uses that human nature as an instrument wherewith to make of the waters of the world the means by which Christians are brought to life. The water that flows from Christ's side in John 19 is an explicit example of the union of baptism with the work of the Cross that makes it an efficacious sacrament of sanctifying grace, and a symbolic death by which the Christian enters into the power of Christ's salvific death to sin and the evil of this mortal life.

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3. References to the Catechism of the Catholic Church
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CCC 472: This human soul that the Son of God assumed is endowed with a true human knowledge. As such, this knowledge could not in itself be unlimited: it was exercised in the historical conditions of his existence in space and time. This is why the Son of God could, when he became man, "increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man",101 and would even have to inquire for himself about what one in the human condition

can learn only from experience.102 This corresponded to the reality of his voluntary emptying of himself, taking "the form of a slave".103
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CCC 473: But at the same time, this truly human knowledge of God's Son expressed the divine life of his person.104 "The human nature of God's Son, not by itself but by its union with the Word, knew and showed forth in itself everything that pertains to God."105 Such is first of all the case with the intimate and immediate knowledge that the Son of God made man has of his Father.106 The Son in his human knowledge also showed the divine penetration he had into the secret thoughts of human hearts.107 CCC 536: The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of his bloody death. Already he is coming to "fulfil all righteousness", that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father's will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father's voice responds to the Son's acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to "rest on him". Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind. At his baptism "the heavens were opened" - the heavens that Adam's sin had closed - and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation. CCC 537: Through Baptism the Christian is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus, who in his own baptism anticipates his death and resurrection. The Christian must enter into this mystery of humble self-abasement and repentance, go down into the water with Jesus in order to rise with him, be reborn of water and the Spirit so as to become the Father's beloved son in the Son and "walk in newness of life": CCC 1119: Forming "as it were, one mystical person" with Christ the head, the Church acts in the sacraments as "an organically structured priestly community." (LG 11; cf. Pius XII, Mystici Corporis (1943)). Through Baptism and Confirmation the priestly people is enabled to celebrate the liturgy, while those of the faithful "who have received Holy Orders, are appointed to nourish the Church with the word and grace of God in the name of Christ." ( LG 11 # 2.) CCC 1224: Our Lord voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of St. John, intended for sinners, in order to "fulfill all righteousness." Jesus' gesture is a manifestation of his selfemptying. The Spirit who had hovered over the waters of the first creation descended then on the Christ as a prelude of the new creation, and the Father revealed Jesus as his "beloved Son." CCC 1225: In his Passover Christ opened to all men the fountain of Baptism. He had already spoken of his Passion, which he was about to suffer in Jerusalem, as a "Baptism" with which he had to be baptized. The blood and water that flowed from the pierced side of the crucified Jesus are types of Baptism and the Eucharist, the sacraments of new life. From then on, it is possible "to be born of water and the Spirit"24 in order to enter the Kingdom of God.

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4. Patristic Commentary

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Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on Luke, Homily 10: After this, John brings forward a second argument saying, "I indeed baptize you in water. He shall baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire." This too is of great importance for the proof and demonstration that Jesus is Lord and God. For it is the sole peculiar property of the Substance that transcends all, to be able to bestow on people the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and make those that draw near unto it partakers of the divine nature. But this exists in Christ, not as a thing received, nor by communication from another, but as his own and belonging to his substance. He baptizes in the Holy Spirit. Theophylact: The Holy Spirit also may be understood by the word fire, for He kindles with love and enlightens with wisdom the hearts which He fills. Hence also the Apostles received the baptism of the Spirit in the appearance of fire. There are some who explain it, that now we are baptized with the Spirit, hereafter we shall be with fire, that as in truth we are now born again to the remission of our sins by water and the Spirit, so then we shall be cleansed from certain lighter sins by the baptism of purifying fire. St Gregory Nazienzen: Christ comes also to baptism perhaps to sanctify baptism, but doubtless to bury the old Adam in water. St. Augustine of Hippo: But it is most strange that He should receive the Spirit when he was thirty years old. But as without sin He came to baptism, so not without the Holy Spirit. For if it was written of John, He shall be filled with the Spirit from his mother's womb, what must we believe of the man Christ, the very conception of whose flesh was not carnal but spiritual. Therefore He condescended now to prefigure His body, i.e. the Church, in which the baptized especially receive the Holy Spirit. St. Ambrose of Milan; Now the Spirit rightly showed Himself in the form of a dove, for He is not seen in His divine substance. Let us consider the mystery why like a dove? Because the grace of baptism requires innocence, that we should be innocent as doves. The grace of baptism requires peace, which under the emblem of an olive branch the dove once brought to that ark which alone escaped the deluge. St. John Chrysostom: Christ indeed had already manifested Himself at His birth by many oracles, but because men would not consult them, He who had in the mean time remained secret, again more clearly revealed Himself in a second birth. For formerly a star in the heavens, now the Father at the waves of Jordan declared Him, and as the Spirit descended upon Him, pouring forth that voice over the head of Him who was baptized, as it follows, And a voice came from heaven, You are my beloved Son.

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5. Examples from the Saints and Other Exemplars
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St. John Chrysostom, Baptismal Instructions 11.13.: What happened in the case of our and our Master s body also happens in the case of your own. The Master s body was baptized by the Word, by the voice of his Father from heaven which said, "this is my beloved Son," and by the manifestation of the Holy Spirit which descended upon him. This also happens in the case of your body. The baptism is given in the name of the Father , the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Therefore John the Baptist told us, for our instruction, that man does not baptize us but God: "There comes after me one who is mightier than I, and can am not worthy to loose the strap of his sandal. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

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Maximus of Turin, Sermon 13a: Today, then, (the Baptism) is another kind of birth of the Savior. We see him born with the same sort of signs, the same sort of wonders, but with greater mystery. The Holy Spirit, who was present to him than in the wound, not point out upon him in the car. You and your outfight Mary for him now sanctifies the running waters for him. The father who then were shouted in our now cries out with his voice. He knew then, as if choosing the more prudent course, manifested himself as a cloud at the Nativity now bears witness to the truth.... clearly the second birth is more excellent than the first. The one brought forth Christ in silence and without a witness. The other baptized the Lord gloriously with the profession of divinity. From the one, and Joseph, thought to be the father, absents himself. In the other, God the Father, not believed in, manifests himself.

6. Quotes
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Pope Benedict XVI (Principles of Catholic Theology, Sr. Mary Frances McCarthy, tr., San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 33): Being baptized means assuming the name of Christ, means becoming a son with and in him. The demand made by the name into which one here enters is more radical than the demand of any earthly name can be. It attacks the roots of our autonomy more deeply than the deepest earthly bonds can do. For it demands that our existence become "sonllike," that we belong so totally to God that we become an "attribute" of God. And as sans we are to acknowledge so totally that we belong to Christ that we know ourselves to be of one flesh, "one body," and all his brethren. Baptism means, then, that we lose ourselves as a separate independent "I" and find ourselves again in a new "I." Pope Benedict XVI (Principles of Catholic Theology, Sr. Mary Frances McCarthy, tr., San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1987, p. 31-32): Baptism establishes a communion of name with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is, in this respect, somewhat analogous to the act of marriage, which establishes between two individuals a communion of name that is, in turn, an expression of the fact that, from now on, they form a new unity by virtue of which they abandoned their former mode of existence and are no longer to be met separately but always together. Baptism brings about a communion of name between the human individual and the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.... being baptized means entering into a communion of name with him who is that Name and thus becoming, more truly than Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the attribute of God.

7. Other Considerations
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This day often appears in parish life as a time alternate to Easter for baptism and confirmation. In the Gospel today, Luke emphasizes the work of the Holy Spirit in the gift of Baptism and the promise of the fire of the Holy Spirit. The descent of the Spirit from the risen Jesus is a characteristic every sacrament, not only baptism and confirmation. This feast offers an opportunity to speak about one's baptismal vows, and at the very least, the use of holy water as a sacramental recalling the purpose and power of baptism in the life of Christians.

Recommended Resources Brown, Raymond E., S.S., Fitzmeyer, Joseph, S.J., and Murphy, Roland E., O. Carm. The Jerome Biblical Commentary. Two Vols. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Cameron, Peter John, O.P., ed. Benedictus: Day by Day with Pope Benedict XVI. Yonkers, NY: Magnificat/Ignatius Press, 2006. Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Gospel of Luke. Sacra Pagina Series, Vol. 3: Daniel J Harrington, ed. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991. Jurgens, William A. The Faith of the Early Fathers. 3 Vols. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1979. Just, Arthur A., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament, Vol. III, Luke. Manlio Simonetti, ed. Downers Grove, IL : Intervarsity Press, (Institute of Classical Christian Studies), 2002. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels Collected out of the Works of the Fathers Volume III- Pt. I: St. Luke.. Albany, N.Y.: Preserving Christian Publications, Inc., 2001.

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