Gospel Lectio Divina - Baptism of the Lord - January 6, 2022

Gospel Lectio Divina - Baptism of the Lord - January 6, 2022

David Kilby

 

READ 

Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, 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.”

 

MEDITATE

 all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Christ

After a few weeks off, we visit John the Baptist again. It’s fitting that the Christmas season is, in a way, bookended by appearances from him. We have welcomed Jesus into the world thanks to John the Baptist’s foretelling. But now Jesus’ ministry is about to begin. It’s a new beginning, the start of a new story, even if it’s within the same bigger story. The Christmas season is about to end, but let’s not let that bring a closing to the joy of the gospel that comes from the continued story. Those who heard about John certainly weren’t past the fact that their Savior had possibly come to earth finally. About 30 years had passed since the events of Jesus’ birth and nativity. For us it has only been a few weeks. It’s worthwhile to reflect on the newness and freshness of the murmurs about John in the desert. For us, it may just seem like the Liturgical calendar is simply dragging out the Christmas season. But what it’s really doing is providing the proper introduction to Jesus’ three years of ministry. This ending to the Christmas season is really a new beginning, one we can cherish and respond to in faith every new year.

He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire

Wait, we’re still baptized with water. What is this talk about the Holy Spirit and fire? We still receive baptism by water to prepare us for the Bread of Life and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which we receive at Confirmation. Before we can receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we need to receive Jesus, and before we can receive Jesus we need to be cleansed. Baptism cleanses us of original sin, but the journey does not end there. You’ve heard of the expression “baptism by fire” or “baptism of fire” . The Oxford Dictionary defines the phrase this way: “a difficult or painful new undertaking or experience”. Perhaps we do not always make the connection between that expression and receiving the gifts of the Holy Spirit. When metal is put through a crucible, all the impurities are burnt away; and the smith knows the metal has been purified once he sees his reflection in the metal. When we are with the Holy Spirit and receive its gifts, we are being purified until God’s traits become our own. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, fear of the Lord, and piety. When we reflect these traits–these gifts–in our actions, the purification is complete. There is, in a sense, a phoenix rising from the ashes in this purification process as we become a new creation in Christ, receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and all our impurities are burned away through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, a baptism by fire. 

and Jesus also had been baptized 

It’s been said that if something in Scripture does not make sense to you, there is simply something you’re overlooking. Many people struggle to understand why Jesus had to be baptized, because he is the Son of God and free from original sin. However, Jesus getting baptized is not that difficult to understand if you have children, and acknowledge that we are God’s children. When I am teaching my son something new, I often demonstrate it by doing it myself. I don’t need to drink out of a sippy cup, for instance, but when teaching him how to drink out of one I swallowed my pride and took a sip from his. Jesus did not have to be baptized, but he did have to lead the way and show us what is necessary to receive salvation. In this passage, Jesus proves to be God through an act of humility where he became one with us not just in form but also in deed.

“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

God the Father is pleased with Jesus for acting in humility. Jesus is like us in all ways but sin, and yet he did something only those with original sin had to do. In this way, he makes himself one with us, the human race, whom he gives his life for to save. The Father’s approval does not come after an act of courage or strength, but one of great humility. This should be a sign for all those who are in power: to never consider yourself above your subjects even when all the proof points to the fact that you are. The strength of a leader is demonstrated by his ability to restrain and hide that strength until it is needed. Make no mistake, a leader’s ability to restrain himself from demonstrating his power is a strength in itself; it’s the strength of humility. That humility will be what moves people to follow him. Jesus’ willingness to be baptized is the perfect example of that.

PRAY

Dear Lord,

Teach us true humility like Jesus demonstrated at his baptism. He did not have to be baptized, and yet he humbled himself before men to receive a gift you gave to us. In this way he counted himself among us, even though he was God on earth. Show me how to walk in humility like he did, knowing that when I do I unite myself to you, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and all-loving God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen. 

LISTEN

You may not have the sky open up and a dove descend upon you to validate that you are doing God’s will. But if you are paying close enough attention, you will notice that God does send little signs when he is pleased with your choices. It may come in the form of a genuine smile from a priest you respect, or an unsolicited “I love you” from your child. Moments like this come when we are obedient and simply do whatever Jesus tells us to do: keep God’s commandments, pray, and listen. Never stop listening for God’s voice in your life. A believer can easily become weary if he thinks God is not pleased with all his acts of faith. But if we are listening closely enough, we will notice the smiles and nods God sends our way. And his approval is the only approval we should seek.

 

Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and managing editor of Catholic World Report.

 

Glory to the Father The Son and The Holy Spirit