January 9, 2017 (readings)
The Baptism of the Lord
Father Paul Campbell, LC
Matthew 3: 13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, thank you for this time to be with you. I believe in you. I believe that you are here with me and that you want to speak with me today. I wish to open my heart to hear your word and put it into practice out of love for you.
Petition: Lord, help me to grow in the virtue of humility.
1. Jesus Lines up with Sinners: John was preaching a baptism of repentance, and large numbers of people were coming to John to repent of their sins. They wanted to change the direction of their lives and be reconciled with God. Jesus came along with the crowd. Even though he is the sinless one, he numbered himself among the others and proceeded to the Jordan as if he, too, were a sinner like them. To appreciate this gesture, we need only to recall how much we resent it when we are perceived as guilty for something we didn’t do. It’s even costly to have our real faults pointed out to others. Yet here, even when he is so far from the slightest stain of guilt, Jesus peacefully and humbly accepts being labeled a sinner like everyone else. He does this for our sake. Am I overly concerned about how I appear to others so that this negatively affects my good deeds?
2. A Humility that Bows to the Father’s Will: John did not want to baptize Jesus, because he knew that Jesus was not like the others. Yet Jesus made it clear that this was part of the Father’s plan, and this plan was the driving force in his life. Pride did not get in the way of Jesus’ obedience. Rather, his Father’s will was the food that fed and nourished his life. “My food is to do the will of the Father and to finish his work” (John 4:34). What does my own heart “feed on”? If it is not fed on the Father’s will, then could pride be subtly at work turning me into my own highest purpose?
3. A Father’s Blessing: Heaven responded to Christ’s obedience. This moment foreshadows the definitive opening of heaven to mankind’s salvation, accomplished through Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary. The heart of sacrifice is obedience, and obedience is not possible without humility. Jesus humbled himself before John the Baptist. The Father saw his obedience and was pleased, praising him out loud: “This is my beloved Son.” To listen to him is to follow his example.
Conversation with Christ: Lord, thank you for the gift of yourself. Teach me to be humble. It is hard for me to put others ahead of myself, to take second place, to let others win the praise and glory I crave for myself. Help me to be humble and to seek repentance from all sin in my life. I need your help to do your will. Strengthen and guide me in your service.
Resolution: I will do a hidden act of charity for someone.