January 13, 2019: The Baptism of the Lord
Catholic Social Teaching: Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Relationship between baptism and Catholic Social teaching
First Reading: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 or Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Psalm: 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 or 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30
Second Reading: Acts 10:34-38 or 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; Ps 104; 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” (Tit 3:1), 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)
After baptism, Jesus prayed. A word of reflection to seal the sacred act to harken the Trinitarian participation. With God’s acclamation, “You are my beloved Son, with who I am well pleased”, the Holy Spirit’s descent from the opening of heaven and Jesus’ surrender in the waters of the Jordan officiated by a prophet unworthy to loosen His sandals. Our baptism incorporates the same ritual etched with sacramental grace of the Trinity, as we die and rise with Christ in waters blessed to impart the sacred endowment. An episode of faith we may not be cognizant of from our infancy or freshly engrained from the living water immersing one’s being into Christian solidarity, with the same lasting eternal impact. An act showing no partiality, but awaiting for all who believe.
After Jesus’ baptism, He went about doing good and healing the oppressed for God was with Him. A light to all nations to open the eyes of the blind, bring out prisoners from confinement and bring forth from dungeons those who live in darkness. Do we live with that zeal to let our faith make us instruments of healing in the world? Will we let God train us to reject godless ways to live temperately, justly and devoutly, for that is the way of peace in our hearts and the world? Recalling our baptismal promises, we treasure the kindness and generous love of God inherent in the waters of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit to become heirs in the hope of eternal life while we wait and participate in the continual renewal of the face of the earth. This is the blessing of peace the Lord bestows on His people, if we participate and don’t retreat to self-conceived dungeons separating us from the radically inclusive love of God for all people, make ourselves captive to theological ideologies confining us to silos of exclusion or unworthiness and don’t keep on spiritual sunglasses to mute the light of the whole Gospel. For from the waters of baptism wet hair will dry, wet clothes will be changed, but the spiritual refreshment remains if we let our lives radiate the light of our baptismal candles.
Individual Reflection: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Become a sponsor for someone preparing for baptism in RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults) at your parish.
Family Reflection:Titus 2:11-14;3:4-7
In 2019, how can the family more fully live their baptismal promises by living temperately, justly and devoutly? What are some concrete examples?
Prayer: Baptismal promises in song
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.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born December 29, 2018 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.