The Baptism of the Lord – January 9, 2022
Lectionary Readings: Isa. 40:1-5. 9-11; Ps. 104:1-2. 3-4. 24-25. 27-30;
Titus 2:11-14. 3:4-7; Lk. 3:15-16. 21-22
Theme: Baptized with water and the Holy Trinity
The readings today remind us of our baptism and how we are to live and celebrate it. The Gospel tells us about the baptizing of John with water and the baptizing of Jesus with the Holy Spirit and fire.
In the Pentateuch/Torah, we can read many instances of God’s grace through water as in the creation story (Gen. 1:6-10), at the great flood (Gen. 6-9), the crossing the sea of Reeds (Exod. 14:19-31), the flowing of water and blood from the side of Jesus as he hung from the cross (John 19:34).
Also included in this list is the baptism of Jesus which, as described by the four gospels, took place on the banks of the Jordan River administered by his cousin John the Baptist (Matt. 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:1-21, and John 1:6-34). John offered baptism in the River Jordan to all those who wanted to obtain forgiveness of their sins and in effect, the cleansing of their body and soul.
While Jesus was being baptized and praying, Luke says: “The heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you, I am well pleased.’”
The Hebrew (Ruah) and Greek (pneuma) words for the Spirit of God which mean, wind, breath, air, or spirit are invisible realities. But Luke gives the Spirit a body form and action, that of a dove which descended.
Thus, the baptism of Jesus is said to be the affirmation of the divine Sonship of Jesus (which is also repeated by a voice in heaven at the Transfiguration as found in Luke 9:35-36). It is also the manifestation of the Blessed Trinity, of God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
In his commissioning of the disciples at his resurrection, Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 24:19).
Today the sacrament of baptism is called the sacrament of initiation (to belong to the Church and to mission). When we are baptized, God declares publicly that we are his children.
Reflecting on the Feast of Baptism, can be an act of renewal and even of transformation, according to Maureena Fritz, NDS, who founded the Bat Kol Institute for Jewish Studies (now the IPS Ratisbonne- Bat Kol-Christian Centre for Jewish Studies) on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord in 1983.
In her message to Bat Kol alums to mark Bat Kol’s 34th anniversary in 2017, she said: “ While one can’t see the Holy Spirit, one can perceive, intuit and hear the Voice. Awakening to the Presence is transformative. When the wild and watery waste heard ‘Let there be…’ it blossomed. When Jesus heard ‘You are my beloved son’ he broke into the public view.”
Reminding Bat Kol alums of their motto, she said: “’We will hear and we will do’ trains us to perceive, intuit the Ruah HaKodesh that speaks to us in the daily events of our lives, in a whispering wind, a child’s cry, a poet’s song, an unexpected event, a sudden surprise.”
For all of us baptized Christians, our motto too should be: “we hear and we will do.”
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. Have you had a “we will hear and we will do” moment? 2 Do you know the date of your baptism? What are ways to celebrate your baptism?
Bibliography: Johnson, Harrington, ed, Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Luke, (Minnesota: 1991), Fritz, Anniversary of Bat Kol’s Founding, 1983-2017, downloaded from http://www.batkol.info on January 13, 2017
This week’s Parasha Commentary was prepared by
Minerva Generalao, Philippines, Bat kol Alumna July 2014