January 12, 2014: The Baptism of the Lord:
Catholic Social Teaching: Solidarity
“We are one human family whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological differences. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, wherever they may be. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace…” Themes from Catholic Social Teaching USCCB
First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm: 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-38
Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17
Catechism of the Catholic Church.
“…Already he (Jesus) is coming to ‘fulfill all righteousness,’ that is, he is submitting himself entirely to his Father’s will: out of love he consents to this baptism of death for the remission of our sins. The Father’s voice responds to the Son’s acceptance, proclaiming his entire delight in his Son. The Spirit whom Jesus possessed in fullness from his conception comes to “rest on him’. Jesus will be the source of the Spirit for all mankind…(536) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to The Baptism of the Lord, Cycle A
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
“God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34; cf. Rom 2:11; Gal 2:6; Eph 6:9), since all people have the same dignity as creatures made in his image and likeness. The Incarnation of the Son of God shows the equality of all people with regard to dignity: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28; cf. Rom 10:12; 1 Cor 12:13, Col 3:11).
Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of every person before God is the basis of the dignity of man before other men. Moreover, this is the ultimate foundation of the radical equality and brotherhood among all people, regardless of their race, nation, sex, origin, culture, or class .(144)
Working for peace can never be separated from announcing the Gospel, which is in fact the “good news of peace” (Acts 10:36; cf. Eph 6:15) addressed to all men and women. At the centre of “the gospel of peace” (Eph 6:15) remains the mystery of the cross, because peace is born of Christ’s sacrifice (cf. Is 53:5) — “Upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we were healed”. The crucified Jesus has overcome divisions, re-establishing peace and reconciliation, precisely through the cross, “thereby bringing the hostility to an end” (Eph 2:16) and bringing the salvation of the Resurrection to mankind. (493)
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If we live embedded in a tactile existence, will we experience peace? Does absorption with only finite reality, void of the transformative Spirit, leave us imprisoned in a dungeon of abysmal spiritual darkness? Only after his baptism, Jesus experienced the descent of the Spirit. Even as the Son of God, Jesus needed human cooperation to propel His mission. He tempered John the Baptist’s hesitancy to participate in the initiation, by saying, “It is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness. With peace not a purchasable commodity, but only acquirable with the Spirit indwelling in us, Jesus offers his greeting, “Peace be with you.” We must not let peace be internalized, but let this peace flow forth in the movements of our lives. For He proclaimed peace by doing good and healing those oppressed by the devil. Oppression driven by force or decree, plundering of economic injustice, mockery of religious hypocrisy and sin of social exclusion. A proclamation of peace not with whining and cries about injustice or shouts of intimidation. His voice of peace was not heard in the street as people transitioned to daily activities, for Jesus met people in their challenges, dined at their homes and sat down to let them come, so they could listen to His discourses. By Jesus imparting peace in His words and actions, the recipients could absorb and manifest peace infused by the Spirit into the world.
Like John the Baptist, will we shed our feeling of inadequacies and unworthiness to have faith and belief in our Trinitarian baptism to allow – not stifle—peace to happen by continuing Jesus’ example of doing good and working to heal oppression? Or do we like to complain, cry out tears of doom and live with partiality –- where false peace is an individual possession, not a collective light of hope for the nations?
God was pleased with His beloved Son for surrendering to the waters of baptism and entering an earthly journey absorbed with peace, justice and doing good. If we see that peace tarnished by violence, acts of evil or dialogue of exclusion, may the Spirit of our baptism help propel us to live into the peace Jesus witnessed to. For if darkness embeds any portion of our soul, we cease to acknowledge the grace of our baptism and mystery of the cross.
Individual Reflection: Matthew 3:13-17
Be a sponsor for someone journeying to complete the Sacraments of Initiation through RCIA.
Family Reflection: Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10
Discuss how, as a family, you will manifest the Spirit of your baptisms.
Lord, let the waters of our baptisms always enliven the Spirit within us, so we maybe a people of peace, a Church of unity and a light to the nations. May we continually be reborn and inwardly transformed to seek the victory of justice. Open our eyes and free us from the imprisonment of self. Let us leave the dungeon of me to live in the light of embracing humanity. Lord, we accept your blessings of peace proclaimed in the Gospel and sealed in the mystery of the cross. Thanks be to God !
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born December 28, 2013 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern