JANUARY 15, 2023 GOSPEL REFLECTION

Today the Church calls us to reflect on the Baptism of Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River by John the Baptist. In our Gospel reading, John the Baptist is testifying to the messianic mission of Christ by recounting how the Spirit has come down from the heavens like a dove to rest on Jesus. In Matthew’s account of the Baptism of Jesus, we are given even more details, that of a voice from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” 

Though Jesus had no need of baptism – he was like us in all things but sin – Jesus showed us his desire to submit himself to this rite, just as he submitted himself to the other requirements of the Law. Jesus willingly and eagerly submitted himself to the laws that governed the people of Israel, the people who had been chosen by God to prepare the way for the redeemer. Saint Augustine reminds us that Jesus desired to be baptized so that he might freely proclaim through his humility what for us was to be a necessity. Jesus didn’t need to be baptized – but we do! By his baptism, Jesus left for us the Sacrament of Christian Baptism, directly instituted by Christ and given as a universal law on the day of his Ascension, when he told his Apostles to, “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 28:13). Through our baptism, we became members of God’s family, his sons and daughters. 

The day we were baptized was the most important day of our lives, and as such, should be the subject of some contemplation and prayer! Baptism is the door through which we enter the Church, it’s through baptism that we’re called to holiness, and by the graces of baptism that Original Sin is washed away! In baptism we receive faith and grace, and are placed firmly on the path to eternal life. The Sacrament of Baptism, like all sacraments, is efficacious, it isn’t just a symbol that points to some greater thing, it actually is what it symbolizes! Water purifies and cleans, and it can be a symbol of interior purification, but by elevating it to a Sacrament, the waters of baptism do the very thing that they symbolize – they wash away Original Sin, and every other stain of sin, by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Through Baptism we are claimed by Christ and brought into his family, the Church. What an extraordinary and enduring gift! 

Today, the Church gives us a moment to thank God for this totally undeserved gift, and to rejoice in the countless other gifts that have been given to us. The next time we enter the Church and dip our hands into the holy water font, take the occasion to remember and be thankful for the gift of the Baptismal waters that were poured out on us for the forgiveness of our sins, and the new life that was given to us by Christ. 

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CATECHESIS

At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

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