Engaging Faith | Wed, Jan 8, 2014
Lectionary Reflections: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Jan. 12, 2014
Copyright @ 2014, Center of Concern
The Baptism of Jesus [a]
Jan. 12, 2014
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
January is Poverty Awareness Month http://www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/poverty-education/poverty-awareness-month.cfm
Jan. 5-11: National Migration Week http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/
Jan. 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
Jan. 16: Religious Freedom Day www.religiousfreedomday.com/
Jan. 20: Martin Luther King Day observed
“… [s]ince 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).”
Pope John Paul II, “Novo Millennio Ineunte"
“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.’”
Pope John Paul II, “Christifideles Laici” (Apostolic Exhortation on the Vocation of the Laity)
“We believe that every person is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person…. In a global culture driven by excessive individualism, our tradition proclaims that the person is not only sacred but also social. The Catholic tradition teaches that human beings grow and achieve fulfillment in community.”
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,
“Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions”
“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 inviol-able dignity, value, and worth, regardless of race, gender, class, or other human characteristics.”
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops,
“Responsibility, Rehabilitation, and Restoration:
A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice”
“To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us.”
Pope Francis, Nov. 25, 2013
Thoughts for your consideration
John baptizes Jesus. What is happening? What is being revealed for us today? It is more that a religious ritual of some sort to get something out of God. It is more that something done out of an obligation. If we look with faith, we can see many things.
1) 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 every human person. This dignity is at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching. Every human person is beloved to God. We are all sisters and brothers, made in the image and likeness of God.
2) In baptism, we see the welcoming of someone into the community and a celebration of solidarity among the various members. Jesus is in solidarity with all the others who have come forward for baptism. In our baptism we see the solidarity of all people in God. This solidarity is expressed in our work together for justice. We are with each other as we face all the challenges of our world. Jesus is about what was promised by Isaiah. Jesus is about bringing justice to the nations. The images of Isaiah have social and political implications for our life today.
3) We see a commitment to shared values and ways of living. As Isaiah prophesizes in the first reading, this Spirit of Jesus is a spirit of nonviolence, not even “breaking a bruised reed.” We see in the baptism of Jesus a challenge to review our values and ways of living and to recommit ourselves to a nonviolent, radical love for one another, especially for the poor.
4) The message of the scriptures is for all the nations. This is affirmed in each of the first two readings. “I have called you for the victory of justice… a light for the nations,” Isaiah writes. “I see,” we read in Acts, “that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” We are called into a community working together for justice and peace. It is time to end the racism, discrimination, and ethnic violence. It is time to be brothers and sisters.
5) The challenge of the scriptures is to make real today the promises of Isaiah and the commitment of Jesus. The challenge is to put our baptism in practice. We are called into action for and with all our brothers and sisters.
Pope Francis recently wrote in Evangelii Gaudium:
“The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament which is itself ‘the door:’ baptism. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.”
Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group
Isaiah talks of the call of bring justice onto the earth.
How are you 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 out?
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 S.J. www.arvindguptatoys.com/arvindgupta/frog1.doc
Actions - Links
January: Poverty Awareness Month
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month. See www.povertyusa.org or https://www.facebook.com/povertyusa
January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day
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
Also check out the web site of the Not for Sale Campaign at http://www.notforsalecampaign.org/
Consider taking action at http://humantrafficking.change.org/
In the United States, 10.4 million working families are considered “low income.”
Almost one is three of working U.S. families struggle to meet basic needs.
More than 47 million (including 23.5 million children) live in low-income working families.
The bottom 20 percent of working families earn less than 5 percent of the economic pie.
See: http://www.workingpoorfamilies.org/ and find data for each state.
According to the U.S. State Department, 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. More than 70 percent are female and half are children.
Prayers of Intercession
Response: Lord, help us establish justice on the earth.
We remember those living in places of war, we pray…
We remember the people of the troubled lands in the Middle East, we pray…
We remember the places of war and internal violence in various places of Africa, we pray…
We remember all those who have been enslaved or trafficked, we pray…
We remember those who work without a living wage, we pray…
We remember those who have no access of good health care, we pray…
We remember refugees and the homeless, 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