Engaging Faith | Sat, Jan 3, 2015
The Baptism of Jesus [b]
January 11, 2015
Copyright © 2014 Center of Concern
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 or Isaiah 55:1-11
Acts 10:34-38 or 1 John 5:1-9
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
January 16: Religious Freedom Day: www.religiousfreedomday.com/
January 19: Martin Luther King Day observed
January 18 – 25: Annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity: http://www.geii.org/wpcu_index.htm
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
We must be transmitters of the faith.
- Pope Francis, homily, 12 January 2014
To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us.
- Pope Francis, on twitter, November 25, 2013
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. We are called to transmit this faith and affirm the dignity of every human person.
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 baptized into a community. We are called to transmit the faith, which affirms the dignity of every human person.
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. We are called to a deep commitment to certain values and ways of living.
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.”
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?
A bishop was testing the suitability of a group of candidates for baptism.
“By what sign will others know that you are Catholics?” he asked.
There was no reply. Evidently no one had expected this question. The bishop repeated the question. Then he said it once again, this time making the Sign of the Cross to give the others a clue to the right answer.
Suddenly one of the candidates got it, “Love” he said.
The bishop was taken aback. He was about to say. “Wrong,” then checked himself in the nick of time.
- From The Prayer of the Frog, Part One, by Anthony DeMello SJ: www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/frog1.doc
Actions - Links
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. http://www.ipjc.org/links/trafficking.htm
Pope Francis’ recent message for the World Day of Peace which is 1 January 2015 addresses contemporary forms of slavery and human trafficking and can be read at: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20141208_messaggio-xlviii-giornata-mondiale-pace-2015.html
Also check out the web site of the Not for Sale Campaign at: http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/
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. For more info go to: http://www.geii.org/week_of_prayer_for_christian_unity/
January: Poverty Awareness Month
For the Poverty Awareness Calendar, go to: http://www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/povertyusa/upload/poverty-awareness-month-calendar.pdf
Among developed countries, only Romania has a higher rate of child poverty than the US.: http://billmoyers.com/2014/12/30/inequality-american-child/
In the US, there are 578,424 homeless people, a third of whom have no shelter at all. http://billmoyers.com/2014/11/27/many-homeless-people-will-freeze-death-winter/
Immigration facts for all fifty states and DC are available at: http://www.fairus.org/facts
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, 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 and the elderly, we pray….
We remember police officers and all who work in the justice system, we pray….
We remember those in prisons and jails, we pray….
We remember those who are afraid of the police and other civil authorities, we pray….
We remember those who go hungry today, 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