Monday, January 6, 2020

January 12, 2020 - The Baptism of our Lord

(This blog has been written by Michele Konicki, ASBS Emerita. From here on, Michele will be alternating blog posts with Sr. Annette. There will be a signature at the end of each blog stating who the author is. Enjoy!)

Reading I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29
Reading II: Acts of the Apostles 10: 34-38
Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17

Today we celebrate the feast of The Baptism of our Lord! Jesus came to be Baptized by John at the Jordan River. Jesus’ baptism is a sign of His deep love for us, to become one with us in our humanity. Baptism brings possibilities for new beginnings, as does the beginning of a New Year. As we celebrate the beginning of 2020, we reflect on the ways in which we can extend ourselves to serve our Lord in our communities. When we were Baptized with water and the Spirit of God descended upon us, we were given the power to share the Good News to bring justice to our community of friends, neighbors, family and all those who cross our path in our daily life. Jesus walks with us each day on our faith journey as a child of God, He does not ask us to walk alone. His Spirit fills us daily to serve Him.

Baptism is the first of three Sacraments of Initiation into our Church Family. When I reflect on the Sacrament of Baptism, what comes to mind is the symbolic cleansing power of water and how Jesus chose to use water to cleanse us from our sins and to fill us with the Holy Spirit to carry on His work in the world. When I recall my own Baptism and how my parents chose to Baptize me into the Catholic Church, I am grateful for their choice. As an adult, I still promise to fulfill God’s personal mission as a Baptized Catholic, to bring forth justice in my circle of community, by the renewal of my Baptismal promises each year at Easter. When I am immersed in water, whether it be my daily morning shower, floating in or sitting by the ocean, being caught in the rain, washing dishes, giving my babies a bath or bathing someone who needs assistance, it is a time I use to reflect on the saving power of Jesus and how I can use each of these encounters to serve our Lord in my ordinary daily routine.

Jesus’ Baptism was performed publicly at the Jordan River. Most commonly today, our Baptisms into the Catholic church are performed in our Parish Church at the Baptismal Font among our family and friends. Baptism is performed publicly to welcome us into the Family of God with our family and friends present to be a witness of God’s saving power and eternal pledge of love. How wonderful is the invitation to be united with Christ, to stand in solidarity as His servant, bringing God’s justice to the earth? In celebrating our Baptism as our official opening of our public mission, just as Jesus was Baptized, we too are filled with the Holy Spirit and are now equipped to share the Good News and embrace the ability to heal others through compassion and service. We are not alone in this mission. Jesus is with us! “The powerful arm of the Holy One reaches out to grasp all of humanity by the hand, both to save from danger and to walk hand in hand like lovers forever.” -Abiding Word

Reflection Question: Share some ways which we presently or plan to move forward in celebrating our Baptism within each day. By standing in solidarity with Jesus, how can we bring forth justice in our community?

~Michele Ann, ASBS Emerita

Spanish Translation

Lecura I: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Salmo 29
Lectura II: Hechos 10: 34-38
Evangelio: Mateo 3:13-17

¡Hoy celebramos la fiesta del Bautismo de nuestro Señor! Jesús vino a ser bautizado por Juan en el río Jordán. El bautismo de Jesús es un signo de su profundo amor por nosotros, para ser uno con nosotros en nuestra humanidad. El bautismo trae posibilidades para nuevos comienzos, al igual que el comienzo de un nuevo año. Al celebrar el comienzo de 2020, reflexionamos sobre las formas en que podemos extendernos para servir a nuestro Señor en nuestras comunidades. Cuando fuimos bautizados con agua y el Espíritu de Dios descendió sobre nosotros, se nos dio el poder de compartir las Buenas Nuevas para traer justicia a nuestra comunidad de amigos, vecinos, familiares y todos aquellos que se cruzan en nuestro camino en nuestra vida diaria. Jesús camina con nosotros cada día en nuestro viaje de fe como un hijo de Dios, no nos pide que caminemos solos. Su Espíritu nos llena diariamente para servirle.

El bautismo es el primero de los tres sacramentos de iniciación en nuestra familia de la Iglesia. Cuando reflexiono sobre el Sacramento del Bautismo, lo que viene a mi mente es el poder simbólico de limpieza del agua y cómo Jesús eligió usar el agua para limpiarnos de nuestros pecados y llenarnos del Espíritu Santo para llevar a cabo Su obra en el mundo. Cuando recuerdo mi propio bautismo y cómo mis padres decidieron bautizarme en la Iglesia Católica, estoy agradecido por su elección. Como adulto, todavía prometo cumplir la misión personal de Dios como católico bautizado, hacer justicia en mi círculo de comunidad, mediante la renovación de mis promesas bautismales cada año en Pascua. Cuando estoy inmerso en agua, ya sea en mi ducha diaria de la mañana, flotando o sentada junto al océano, atrapada bajo la lluvia, lavando platos, bañando a mis bebés o bañando a alguien que necesita ayuda, es un momento que uso para reflexionar sobre el poder salvador de Jesús y cómo puedo usar cada uno de estos encuentros para servir a nuestro Señor en mi rutina diaria ordinaria.

El bautismo de Jesús se realizó públicamente en el río Jordán. Más comúnmente hoy, nuestros bautismos en la iglesia católica se realizan en nuestra iglesia parroquial en la fuente bautismal entre nuestra familia y amigos. El bautismo se realiza públicamente para darnos la bienvenida a la Familia de Dios con nuestra familia y amigos presentes para ser testigos del poder salvador de Dios y la promesa eterna de amor. ¿Cuán maravillosa es la invitación a unirse con Cristo, a solidarizarse como su siervo, llevando la justicia de Dios a la tierra? Al celebrar nuestro Bautismo como nuestra apertura oficial de nuestra misión pública, así como Jesús fue bautizado, nosotros también estamos llenos del Espíritu Santo y ahora estamos equipados para compartir las Buenas Nuevas y abrazar la capacidad de sanar a otros a través de la compasión y el servicio. No estamos solos en esta misión. ¡Jesús está con nosotros! "El poderoso brazo del Santo se extiende para agarrar a toda la humanidad de la mano, tanto para salvarse del peligro como para caminar de la mano como amantes para siempre".

Pregunta de reflexión: Comparta algunas formas en que actualmente o planeamos avanzar para celebrar nuestro Bautismo dentro de cada día. Al solidarizarnos con Jesús, ¿cómo podemos hacer justicia en nuestra comunidad?


Stephanie Morris, ASBS, Ph.D Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita
We were made clean in the sacrament of Baptism. We are made clean again when we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. An examination of conscience prior to going to confession would enable us to review our life’s actions and words. It might suggest ways in which we could stand in stronger solidarity with Jesus. Mother Katharine wrote to herself in 1881 to go to God “with the simplicity and like a little child.” Like a little child, we should feel comfortable going to God and asking for help in knowing how we can best act of children of God. 

Mother Katharine didn’t march in protest but she did write letters of support. Do we support groups Jesus would support? A priest once told me that “every drop fills the bucket.” Even a daily prayer can help support social justice. Maybe we could write a letter or call our representative in support of a just cause. A few dollars each year would be of help to a worthy cause. A little help can go a long way.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS
Thank you, Michele for the beautiful reflection on Baptism. Your words remind me of just how dynamic the Sacrament of Baptism truly is. You reveal the less recognized aspect of the Sacrament that invites us to join in Jesus’ mission to seek justice for all members of God’s creation.

When I was baptized, as an infant, adult participation was very passive. While Baptism was certainly recognized as a Sacrament, it was treated more as an event that Catholics “did” for the baby. The water was considered a sign that original sin was cleansed from the infant’s soul. There was little lasting spiritual connection and, I dare say, no one walked out of the church with a sense of responsibility for social justice. The only social consideration was the party that followed back at the house. To be honest, I did not come away from the Baptism of my children with a sense of being called to minister to others. This understanding and appreciation of Baptism comes after years of adult education, spiritual readings, Bible study and Scripture sharing. Even the annual renewal of Baptismal promises failed to stir within
me a sense of social responsibility for others. I think this was because the emphasis was more on avoiding sin than on evaluating the formation of the Christ(ian) character bestowed upon us as we are Baptized in the Spirit into one Body – making us all One in Christ. That awareness raises my consciousness to the concern for the common good of all humanity.

I’m about to drift off theme a bit, but I stumbled upon a modern day interpretation of the Baptismal promises that expanded my appreciation of the graces and the aliveness of the Sacrament of Baptism. I’d like to share it with our readers. It is from the book, “Sacraments and Justice,” chapter 1, “Baptism and Justice,” written by John F. Baldwin, SJ.

“… it is quite clear that receiving one’s own baptismal dignity implies 
recognizing the dignity and human rights of all people...William Reiser 
has suggested a reformulation of baptismal promises adapted to our 
contemporary circumstances, among them: Do you dedicate yourself 
to seeking the kingdom of God and God’s justice, to praying daily, to 
meditating on the gospels and to celebrating the Eucharist faithfully 
and devoutly? Do you commit yourself to that simplicity of living which 
Jesus enjoined on his disciples? Do you commit yourself to resisting the 
spirit of materialism and consumerism which is so strong in our culture? 
Do you accept responsibility for building community, for being people of 
compassion and reconciliation, for being mindful of those who are poor 
and oppressed, and for truly forgiving those who have offended you?

Reiser’s contention is that we need a fresh look at our baptismal 

promises and the kind of evil that we are renouncing with such 
formulaic phrases as: “Do you renounce evil and refuse to be 
mastered by sin?” Often enough the antiquity of our formulas 
make it difficult to appreciate their modern applications.”

The added emphasis on love-based actions, modeled on Christ’s own lifestyle, pulls forth our “yes” to accept our identity as sons and daughters of God on whom “the baptismal water is never dry,” as stated by Sr. Verna Holyhead, “as we work for justice, for right relationships with God and with one another, as people who will be impartial in our love and gently generous in our service.” 

Lord, help me reclaim the grace bestowed upon me in Baptism so I can respond to your call to share your Good News with those I encounter today.

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