January 10, 2016: Baptism of the Lord
Catholic Social Teaching: Option for the Poor and Vulnerable
The common good can only be realized when the most vulnerable and marginalized in our midst, locally and globally, are active participants. When they lack the basic necessities of life, humanity denies their sacred dignity.
“Pope Benedict XVI has taught that love for widows, orphans, prisoners and the sick and needy of every kind, is as essential to the Church as the ministry of the sacraments and preaching the Gospel (Deus Caritas Est, no 22). This preferential option for the poor and vulnerable includes all who are marginalized in our nation and beyond—unborn children, persons with disabilities, the elderly and terminally ill and victims of injustice and oppression.” Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 51
First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 Alternative for Cycle C: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm: 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 Alternative for Cycle C: Psalm 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-38 Alternative for Cycle C: Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7
Gospel: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body. As an “adopted son” he can henceforth call God “Father,” in union with the only Son. He receives the life of the Spirit who breathes charity into him and who forms the Church. (1997) From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to the Baptism of the Lord, Cycle C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
The Old Testament presents God as the omnipotent Creator (cf. Gen 2:2; Job 38-41; Ps104; Ps 147) who fashions man in his image and invites him to work the soil (cf. Gen 2:5-6),and cultivate and care for the garden of Eden in which he has placed him (cf. Gen 2:15). To the first human couple God entrusts the task of subduing the earth and exercising dominion over every living creature (cf. Gen 1:28). The dominion exercised by man over other living creatures, however, is not to be despotic or reckless; on the contrary he is to “cultivate and care for” (Gen 2:15) the goods created by God. These goods were not created by man, but have been received by him as a precious gift that the Creator has placed under his responsibility. Cultivating the earth means not abandoning it to itself; exercising dominion over it means taking care of it, as a wise king cares for his people and a shepherd his sheep.
In the Creator’s plan, created realities, which are good in themselves, exist for man’s use. The wonder of the mystery of man’s grandeur makes the psalmist exclaim: “What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him little less than god, and crown him with glory and honour. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet” (Ps 8:5-7). (255)
The relationship of man with the world is a constitutive part of his human identity. This relationship is in turn the result of another still deeper relationship between man and God. The Lord has made the human person to be a partner with him in dialogue. Only in dialogue with God does the human being find his truth, from which he draws inspiration and norms to make plans for the future of the world, which is the garden that God has given him to keep and till (cf. Gen 2: 15). Not even sin could remove this duty, although it weighed down this exalted work with pain and suffering (cf. Gen 3:17-19).
Creation is always an object of praise in Israel’s prayer: “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all” (Ps 104:24). Salvation is perceived as a new creation that re-establishes that harmony and potential for growth that sin had compromised: “I create new heavens and a new earth” (Is 65:17) — says the Lord — in which “the wilderness becomes a fruitful field … and righteousness [will] abide in the fruitful field … My people will abide in a peaceful habitation” (Is 32:1518). (452)
“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)
Praying for rulers, which Saint Paul recommended even as he was being persecuted, implicitly indicates what political authority ought to guarantee: a calm and tranquil life led with piety and dignity (cf. 1 Tim 2:1-2). Christians must “be ready for any honest work” (Tit3:1), showing “perfect courtesy towards all” (Tit 3:2), in the awareness that they are saved not by their own deeds but by God’s mercy. Without “the washing of regeneration and renewal in the Holy Spirit, which he poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Tit 3:5-6), all people are “foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing [their] days in malice and envy, hated by men and hating one another” (Tit 3:3). We must not forget the miserable state of the human condition marred by sin, but redeemed by God’s love. (381)
Do we live as if we believe the truth is God shows no partiality? For people of every nation that fear Him and act uprightly are acceptable, exemplified by Jesus all over Judea, throughout the countryside as He proclaimed peace, anointed by God with the Holy Spirit for doing good and healing all those oppressed. An act of giving comfort to all people, bringing justice to the nations, not by shouting words of chatter, but substance manifest by action. For in deeds of healing, people once blinded to the possibility of justice beyond charity see the potential to cultivate God’s proclamation of peace. When people are imprisoned into segregated neighborhoods by profiling, racism and variety of phobias, are free to share their gifts, a witness of God’s love for all people blossoms. When people living in dungeons of hopelessness, despair, a darkness of life from poverty, unemployment, lack of education, discrimination of equal opportunity escape to the light through merciful rendering of justice by worldly structures no longer hindering all humanity’s participation with God in tending to creation, sin is remedied by God’s love illuminated through the actions of His people.
As Jesus prayed at His baptism, He was pronounced God’s beloved Son. We too have entered the waters of baptism to experience the sacramental grace of becoming God’s beloved daughters and sons. Will we ignore the potential of the sacramental reality to bobble along on cruise control of our mundane self-styled existence? Or do we let the words that we area a beloved child of God empower our spiritual path calling us to the victory of justice? Not for our own glorification, prestige, sense of achievement, but for the sake of the blind, imprisoned and those living in the dungeons of life, in ways we might never fathom. But letting their story become our story, we allow the impartiality of God’s love to shine forth. A radical equality we entered into by the waters of baptism to join God’s family not just at the parish church, but globally leading us to the call to live proclaiming peace inseparable from Gospel justice. The grace of God trains us to reject Godless ways, worldly desires leading us to separation from God, while helping us to trust the call as beloved children of God to live temperately, justly and devoutly. A faith not half-hearted, on and off, one of convenience or holiday observance, but rooted in eagerness to follow brother Jesus with constant sincerity. Saved by the bath of rebirth and continually renewed by the Holy Spirit, we live as heirs in the hope of eternal life. Then we allow ourselves to be possessed by God and we possess all God offers us with His mercy and grace. Sin, rectified on the cross, does not control us, so we may live with the freedom of forgiveness. A joyful exuberance framed with gratitude, allowing us to absorb ourselves in supporting God’s definitive justice.
Individual Reflection: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Consider sponsoring someone for baptism or RCIA.
Family Reflection: Psalm 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30
As a family do meditative coloring: Devotional Coloring Visual Scriptures: A Meditative Coloring Book
Prayer Adapted from the Collect
Almighty ever living God, when Christ was baptized in the Jordan River and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, You solemnly declared him your beloved Son. Grant us your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may we always be pleasing to you. We pray for inward transformation of our hearts for justice, as manifestation of your love for all people. In Jesus dear name we pray, Amen.
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, January 2, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.