The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus [c]

Engaging Faith | Fri, Jan 4, 2013

By John Bucki, SJ
Source: Center of Concern

Lectionary Reflections for the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus - January 13, 2012

The Feast of the Baptism of Jesus [c]
 January 13, 2013

     Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 or Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
     Acts 10:34-38 or Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
     Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 13-19: National Vocation Awareness Week
January 18 – 25: Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
January 21: Martin Luther King Day observed


We must reject the temptation to offer a privatized and individualistic spirituality.
~ John Paul II

Rising from the waters of the Baptismal font, every Christian hears again the voice that was once heard on the banks of the Jordan River: "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased"
~ John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation of the Laity, Christifideles Laici

…  since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity. To ask catechumens: "Do you wish to receive Baptism?" means at the same time to ask them: "Do you wish to become holy?" It means to set   before them the radical nature of the Sermon on the Mount: "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Mt 5:48).
~ John Paul II, Novo Millennio Inuente

The fundamental starting point for all of Catholic social teaching is the defense of human life and dignity: every human person is created in the image and likeness of God and has an inviolable dignity, value, and worth, regardless of race, gender, class, or other human characteristics.
~ Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice,
A Statement of the Catholic Bishops of the United States

In the Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, John Paul II warned of the need to “abandon a mentality in which the poor – as individuals and as peoples – are considered a burden, as irksome intruders trying to consume what others have produced.”
~ Benedict XVI, Message for the World Day of Peace 2009

Today perhaps more than in the past, people are realizing that they are linked together by a common destiny, which is to be constructed together, if catastrophe for all is to be avoided.
~ Pope John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 26

Seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings.
~ Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Prayer for Peace 2010

Thoughts for your consideration

    Jesus is baptized by John. The Spirit descends upon Jesus.  The voice calls Jesus “beloved.”  As the voice of God proclaims Jesus to be the “beloved,” we can hear God affirming that same wonderful reality to all of us human creatures. There is a wonderful dignity in the life of every human person. This human dignity is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching.

    This Spirit which descends upon Jesus is not just about Jesus, just as our baptism is not just about our personal relationship with God. We are part of something bigger than ourselves. We are baptized into a community.  We are baptized into a set of shared values and a commitment to the common good.  This includes the ethical values and social teaching of the church.

    The Spirit which Isaiah proclaimed is a Spirit that will “bring justice to the nations” – a Spirit that will bring social and political healing to the people of the world. Catholic Social Teaching reminds us that the Spirit which we receive is not just an interior gift or feeling, but a gift that strives to bring healing between diverse peoples – nations, races, ethnic groups, etc. etc.  The Spirit of Baptism is a spirit that transforms the community and calls us to go out to the world.

    Isaiah makes it clear that the light of this spirit is “for all the nations.”  Peter’s experience in Acts affirms this same truth.  The justice and healing are for all the nations.  The challenge of the scriptures is to make real today the promises of Isaiah and the commitment of Jesus.  As Isaiah prophesizes, this Spirit of Jesus is about opening the eyes of the blind and releasing people from the dungeon. It is about service to those in need, care for those who are poor, and political and economic justice.  As Isaiah prophesizes, this Spirit of Jesus is a spirit of nonviolence – not even “breaking a bruised read.”  We see in the baptism of Jesus a challenge to review our values and ways of living and to recommit ourselves to the nonviolent, radical love of Jesus.  “I have called you for the victory of justice … a light for the nations.”  


    In his message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2010, Pope Benedict reminded the world of the Christian and human need for a commitment for environmental justice.  Such a commitment is all the more urgent in light of the reality of global warming. Benedict wrote: “The quest for peace by people of good will surely would become easier if all acknowledge the indivisible relationship between God, human beings and the whole of creation.” Our baptism calls us into a profound relationship with one another and with all of creation.

Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group

Isaiah talks of the call to bring justice onto the earth.
We have a vocation to work for justice.
How are you called to do that today?
How are we called to do that today?


When were you baptized? 
What does being a baptized Christian mean to you? 
What are the values that it commits you to live by?

And Buddha said: “This land is mine, these sons are mine,”-such are the words of the fool who does not understand that even he is not his. You never realty possess things. You merely hold them for a while. If you are unable to give them away you are held by them. Whatever you treasure must be held in the hollow of your hand as water is held. Clutch at it and it is gone. Appropriate it to yourself and you soil it. Set it free and it is forever yours.
~ Anthony De Mello SJ, The Prayer of the Frog

Actions - Links
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
Christians around the world celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity together from January 18 to 25, with the encouragement of the World Council of Churches' Faith and Order Commission and the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. We must work as one for peace and justice. For more info go to:

January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Various information and educational resources can be found at the web pages of the Intercommunity Peace and Justice Center.
Also check out the web site of the Not for Sale Campaign at:

World Day of Peace 2013
To read Benedict XVI’s message for the World Day of Peace which is 1 January 2013, go to The theme is “Blessed are the Peacemakers.”

Unemployed Workers is a project of the National Employment Law Project (NELP). NELPworks to restore the promise of economic opportunity in the 21st century economy and has led advocacy to modernize and bolster the safety net for jobless workers for the last 10 years.  Consider speaking up at

Poverty USA
Poverty USA is an initiation of the Campaign for Human Development.“More than 46 million Americans live in Poverty USA. Americans families were having a difficult time making ends meet before the recession. With continuing unemployment and increasing costs of living, more and more families have to choose between necessities like health care, child care, and even food.”

“Crazy Facts”

The United Nations’ 2011 Human Development Report tells us that “Today’s spending on low-carbon energy sources, for example, is only 1.6 percent of even the lowest estimate of need, while spending on climate change adaptation and mitigation is around 11 percent of estimated need.   ….   The average person in a very high HDI country accounts for more than four times the carbon dioxide emissions and about twice the methane and nitrous oxide emissions of a person in a low, medium or high HDI country— and about 30 times the carbon dioxide emissions of a person in a low HDI country. The average UK citizen accounts for as much greenhouse gas emissions in two months as a person in a low HDI country generates in a year.” = Human Development Index)

Prayers of Intercession

Response: Lord, help us establish justice on the earth.
We remember those living in places of war and terrorism, we pray….
We remember victims of torture, we pray…..
We remember the people of the troubled lands in the Middle East, we pray….
We remember the people in the suffering lands of Africa, especially the Congo, we pray….
We remember refugees and the homeless, we pray….
We remember those who work without a living wage, we pray….
We remember those who have no access of health care, we pray…
We remember children who have no access to education, we pray….
We remember those who go hungry today, we pray….
We remember our planet earth, we pray….


O God, we pray for all those in our world who are suffering from injustice:
For those who are discriminated against because of their race, color or religion;
For those imprisoned for working for the relief of oppression;
For those who are hounded for speaking the inconvenient truth;
For those tempted to violence as a cry against overwhelming hardship;
For those deprived of reasonable health and education;
For those suffering from hunger and famine;
For those too weak to help themselves and who have no one else to help them;
For the unemployed who cry out for work but do not find it.
We pray for anyone of our acquaintance who is personally affected by injustice.
Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions or in a system
       that perpetuates injustice.
Show us how we can serve your children and make your love practical
       by washing their feet.
~ Attributed to Mother Theresa of Calcutta