Thursday, January 7, 2010

Preparing for the Mass - Sunday, January 10, 2010 (Cycle C)

Preparations for January 10, 2010  (Cycle C)

First Reading:Is 42:1-4, 6-7 or Is  40:1-5, 9-11  

(Is 42) Known as one of the four "suffering Servant Songs" in the Old Testament, this reading describes someone who sounds exactly like Jesus. And Jesus himself quotes some of these lines from the prophet, who was probably describing Israel itself. By accepting his own suffering and remaining faithful to God, Israel could be "a light for the nations." For us, the reading is an inspiring portrait of Jesus, the Suffering Servant, who humbly brings justice, freedom, and peace to God's people.
As Larry Gillick, S.J., of Creighton University's Deglman center for Ignatian Spirituality explains,
We hear of a certain “servant” in the First Reading of our liturgy. Isaiah, within the fifteen chapters forty through fifty-five, compiles the Book of Consolation. This prophet writes often of Israel as a “servant”.

More definitely, Isaiah, within these chapters, proclaims four special Servant Songs describing a particular person. We hear the first song in which, in the words of the Lord, he calls to and points out this one “servant”.

This person has a specific mission which involves his going beyond the boundaries of Israel, bringing a “light”. This “light” will bring “justice” to the earth as well as recovery of sight and freedom for those in darkness and prison.

This “servant” will be gentle and not like other prophets who work themselves up into a feverish frenzy resulting in shouting and convulsions. He will be gentle of speech and action. He will be upheld by the Lord and loved explicitly so as to bring “justice” between God and God’s creation.

While it is a text announcing a special person for that time of hope, it has a taste of the characteristics of the coming Messiah. The Spirit of God will be upon and within him and his identity will be known by the people of Israel through his actions.

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.
The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Second Reading:Acts 10:34-38 or Ti 2:11-14; 3:4-7
(Acts of the Apostles) The Roman centurion Cornelius and his fellow converts to Christianity are delighted to hear the apostle say that "God shows no partiality." Some of the early Jewish Christians believed that the good news of Jesus was intended only for the Jews. But Peter explains that Jesus' mission was to all nations. 
There is a great time shift between last week's Gospel and today's Gospel. Thirty years have passed since the visit of the Magi.
Many wonder why Jesus was baptized by John, the Baptist. He was born free of original sin and he lived a sinless life.
I think that John Kavanaugh, S.J., of St. Louis University has a profoundly beautiful reflection.
Why was Jesus baptized? Even for the early church, as the canon of scripture itself was being formed, it seems to have been a controversial question. If Jesus goes before John for the “baptism of repentance,” it seems that Jesus himself is a sinner. The account from the Gospel of Matthew suggests as much when giving voice to John’s reluctance: “It is I who need baptism from you, and yet you come to me!”

Mark’s Gospel begins with John’s proclamation, “for the forgiveness of sins,” and the promise that “someone greater than I is to come.” The next moment, we see the “someone,” whose sandal straps John is not worthy to untie, receiving the sign of repentance from John, not giving it.

It is not only a special irony. It is a central image of the redemptive mystery. Jesus enters into radical solidarity with all men and women, taking upon himself even the condition of our sinfulness, himself having not sinned. The “one more powerful” assumes the position of weakness. It is precisely in this that he is beloved. And it is from this baptism sign that he is sent.

He was like us in all things but sin, the author of Hebrews reminds us when discussing Jesus’ high priesthood. And yet we balk at the statement. “If he did not sin, how could he really be like us? How could he be fully human?”

We misunderstand this because we misunderstand our humanity as well as our sin. Christ has come not only to reveal the divinity to us; he has come to reveal us to ourselves. Not only is he truly God. He is truly human. And he is truly human precisely because he does not sin. All of our sin is nothing other than the rejection of the truth of our humanity. Jesus’ utter acceptance of our humanity, his drinking of our cup fully, his sharing of our wounded condition, reverses our sinful rejection of our creatureliness.

His baptism, then, is at the heart of his mission to heal us. He enters even the wounds of our self-rejection, without having made the rejection himself. He accepts full solidarity with us even if it means being seen as sinner. Jesus’ baptism is one of his earliest great transformations of our human condition. The first was that the Word itself could take human flesh.

All the further implications would follow: that he would be tempted to reject this mission of transformation; that he would undertake all manner of healing and disarming of devils; that he would announce a kingdom to transmute all blindness, poverty, imprisonment, and darkness; that he would, at last, suffer the very fate of sin in death.

Just as we now baptize our children to announce a new fate for the human body, the baptism of Jesus is the inauguration of that fate. Announced as sinner, wholly one with our condition, Jesus, hovered over by the very spirit of God, is gazed upon by the Father who sent him and who now says to him and all of us who share his flesh —“This is my beloved, in whom I am well pleased.”

Here is another wonderful reflection on the Gospel.

(footnote: see source*4) The gospel speaks of two baptisms. The first is the event this feast celebrates: the baptism Jesus received at the hands of John. The second is the baptism we receive “with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Jesus’ baptism revealed him as “beloved Son”; our own baptism reveals us as ones who are saved, renewed, justified, and heirs of eternal life (see second reading).

This feast, then, is an epiphany not only of who Jesus is but also of who we are.

Sadler has a nice review of the readings for children along with suggested discussion questions and activities (lots of typos this week at their site for some reason?)

Want more? Lagniappe!
Baptism of Christ sacrament of confirmation
The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan closes the Christmas Season.  This reflection on the scripture readings for the feast also provide us insight into the sacraments of baptism and Confirmation and give us food for meditation as we say the first luminous mystery of the rosary.

Crossroads Initiatitve, a ministry of Dr. Marcellino

Crossroads Initiative

  1. The Center for Liturgy  
  2. Larry Gillick, S. J., of Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality, writes this reflection for the Daily Reflections page on the Online Ministries web site at Creighton.
  3. Sadler We Believe
  4. *Living Liturgy: Spirituality, Celebration, and Catechesis
    for Sundays and Solemnities
    Year C - 2010, p. 39
    Joyce Ann Zimmerman, CPPS; Kathleen Harmon, SNDdeN;
    and Christopher W. Conlon, SM

    The complete text for this Sunday is found on pages 38-41.
  5. John Kavanaugh, S. J. of Saint Louis University
  6. Dove graphic by Bill Branch @ Episcopal Church Visual Arts
  7. Graphic of The Prophet Isaiah is by Raphael Sanzio


Tracy said...

What a wonderful reflection!! I will re read this again before Mass on Sunday, thank you!!

Abbey said...

A very enlightening and beautiful reflection. Thank you for this insight!


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