Sunday, Jan. 9, is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Liturgical Year A, Cycle I).
Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass and baptisms at the Sistine Chapel at 10am.
He will pray the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square at noon.
For many Catholics, today is the day to take down Christmas decorations. Here’s a prayer to say to make it more meaningful:
“Lord Jesus, today we will put all of our Christmas decorations away. Now we enter into Ordinary Time.
“Our house will look ordinary again, but Lord, you know and we know that our house has a secret. Deep inside it, all of our Christmas decorations are still here. The blessing of Christmas is always with us, kept in the deep, quiet places of the house.
“And Lord, our lives will become ordinary again, but you know that each of us has the grace of baptism. The grace you gave us is always with us, in the deep, quiet places of our soul.
“Help our house be a house with Christmas at its core, and help our lives be lives where Jesus always dwells. Help us live the grace of Christmas every day, only without all the trappings. Amen.”
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Psalms 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10; Acts 10:34-38; Matthew 3:13-17
Two Gospels begin with stories of the birth of Jesus; the two others begin with the story of the Lord’s baptism. For many of us, these two events were practically united. We were born and then baptized in quick succession.
It’s interesting to note all of the things today’s readings say about Christ. We can learn who he is from them — and what kind of life is intended for the baptized.
In the first reading, Isaiah paints a portrait of Christ to come. He tells us:
“A bruised reed, he shall not break.” God’s everlasting mercy will never give up on us, no matter how many wounds we inflict on ourselves.
“A smoldering wick, he shall not quench.” He will never renege on the commitment he makes to us in baptism.
“Until he establishes justice on the earth.” He doesn’t promise comfort, but he does promise justice.
Christ will be “a covenant of the people,” uniting us to God.
He will be “a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” He doesn’t offer us material things. Instead, he offers the ability to see and freedom — conscience and responsibility. To imitate him, we need to learn goodness and do so.
In the second reading, Peter sums up Jesus this way: “He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” Jesus was defined by service to mankind, particularly in breaking the devil’s hold, and for his closeness to God. To imitate him, we have to find ways to serve others and reject the glamour of sin with which the devil enslaves us.
In the Gospel, we hear Christ’s father himself sum up Jesus: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” In the beginning, God looked at the beauty of creation and saw that it was good. Here, he looks at his son and doesn’t just see that he is good — he loves him and is “well pleased.”
So, if you make resolutions following Mass, make the resolution today to be an unbreakable reed, someone who prays through tough times, who goes about doing good, and pray that the grace of your own baptism can unite you to the One in whom the Father is well pleased.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas,
where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.