1st Reading: Isaiah 40:1–5, 9–11
Comfort, give comfort to my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated; indeed, she has received from the hand of the Lord double for all her sins. A voice cries out: In the desert prepare the way of the Lord! Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God! Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill shall be made low; the rugged land shall be made a plain, the rough country, a broad valley. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of glad tidings; cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news! Fear not to cry out and say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God! Here comes with power the Lord God, who rules by a strong arm; here is his reward with him, his recompense before him. Like a shepherd he feeds his flock; in his arms he gathers the lambs, carrying them in his bosom, and leading the ewes with care.
2nd Reading: Titus 2:11–14; 3:4–7
Beloved: The grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good. When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.
Gospel: Luke 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.”
A TRANSFORMED LIFE: A transformed life has external and internal change. That is what baptism does to a person. After Jesus had been baptized, he began a new lifestyle. He abandoned his former lifestyle of being a carpenter and began a new lifestyle of bringing people to God. He began to proclaim the reign of God. At baptism, a person abandons their former lifestyle and begins a new lifestyle of being a sign of God’s presence to other people. At baptism, we become members of the Christian community. A community which lives according to the teachings of Christ. When we live according to the teachings of Christ, we become worthy of the name Christians. As baptized persons, let us bring joy to our families and to the larger Christian community. May the spirit of the Lord find it easy to work within us since we are transformed.
Prayer: Lord, help all the baptized to live according to their baptismal promises.
BAPTISMAL PROMISES: Today we encounter Jesus at the River Jordan. This is a new beginning for him and for everyone around him. Jesus steps onto the public stage as he submits to the baptism of John. Even though John protests that Jesus should be baptizing him, Jesus’ own baptism represents his submission to the loving plan of God for the salvation of humanity. By plunging into the Jordan, Jesus the sinless one identifies with sinful humanity. This act of Jesus is another expression of the mystery of the incarnation. In Jesus, God has become one with us and has entered into solidarity with us in assuming our human nature. At this moment, he is proclaimed as God’s beloved Son, with whom God is well pleased. At our baptism we received the Holy Spirit, who fills us with the very life of God. It is this Spirit who gives us a share in the mission of Jesus. How are faithful to our baptismal promises in renouncing sin and satan?
IS THE LORD WELL PLEASED WITH YOU? In the past, slaves had to always do the master’s will. However, when granted a chance to be free, the slave was immersed in a river, marking the end of the slavery, and the start of a new life of freedom, marked by a new name. In Christianity, one who is not baptized is a slave of the Original Sin, and of other sins; sin is his master. During baptism, one is immersed into the baptismal font, and is washed clean. He is born into the Christian community, and acquires a new status; a child of God and of the Church. Through Baptism, one acquires a new life in Christ, and a new name. Acquiring a saint’s name invokes the saint’s intercession, to help the new Christian remain faithful to the new life and avoid sin. Through Baptism, God releases his Holy Spirit to descend and dwell in the new-born. When we allow God’s Spirit to guide us, our actions reveal God in us. If we fall in sin, and make no effort to rise up, we cannot claim to be baptized.