Baptism of Jesus [a]

Engaging Faith | Mon, Jan 3, 2011

By John Bucki, S.J.

The Baptism of Jesus [a]

 January 9, 2011



     Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

     Acts 10:34-38

     Matthew 3:13-17



January is Poverty in America Awareness Month

January 2-8: National Migration Week: “Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice.”

January 11: National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January 16: Religious Freedom Day

January 17: Martin Luther King Day observed




  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


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


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.

US 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 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


Thoughts for your consideration


John baptizes Jesus. What is happening in this event? 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 the life of 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.”  All of 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 the nonviolent, radical love of Jesus.


(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.”   “I see 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.


(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 a



Questions for Reflection in your Faith Sharing Group


Isaiah talks of the call to 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 you?



Actions - Links


Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) has designated January as Poverty Awareness Month.  See or


The Working Poor Families Project issued a policy paper on how the great recession has influenced the lives of the working poor in the United States.  You can read the report at


January 11 is National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. 

Check out these sites for more info.



“Crazy Facts”


The Working Poor Families Project reports that almost one third working families in the United States are now considered low-income, earning less than twice the official poverty threshold.  In 2009, “forty-five million people, including 22 million children, lived in low-income working families, an increase of 1.7 million people from 2008.”


The National Priorities Project estimates that the cost of wars for the United States from 2001 until today is $1.13 trillion dollars and counting -- $750 billion for the war in Iraq and $380 billion for the war in Afghanistan.  See the current total at


Concerning human trafficking:

• In the US alone 14,500 to 17,500 people are trafficked each year.

• 80% of trafficked people are women and girls.

• 50% of trafficked people are under 18 years of age.


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