Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, ABC

The Baptism of the Lord, Year ABC

Readings: Isa 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; A: Mt 3:13-17, B: Mk 1:7-11, C: Lk 3:15-16, 21-22.

1/ First Reading: RSV Isaiah 42:1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. 6 "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness."

2/ Second Reading: RSV Acts 10:34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."

3/ Gospel:

A. NAB Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 John tried to prevent him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?" 15 Jesus said to him in reply, "Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed him. 16 After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him. 17 And a voice came from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

B. RSV Mark 1:7 And he preached, saying, "After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." 9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; 11 and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."

C. NAB Luke 3:15 Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 16 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. 21 After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened 22 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."


Written by: Fr. Anthony Tien M. Dinh, O.P.

I. THEME: Christ is chosen to execute God’s plan of salvation.

 

            In God’s providence, He didn’t do everything but chose different people to participate in His plan of salvation. Those He chose, He also bestowed all necessary grace so that they can fulfill the missions He entrusted to them.

            Today readings centralize on God’s most important choice which is the selection of Christ to execute God’s plan of salvation. We shall first study this selection and then apply it to God’s selection of us to do His will.

            In the first reading, the prophet Isaiah was permitted by God to see clearly His selection of the Suffering Servant. This is the person who is loved by God because he is always faithful to God and to fulfill His plan of salvation. The way he fulfills his mission is also exceptional and different with people’s popular way: “He will not cry out or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” In the second reading, the author reminded the faithful to review Christ’s life in order to learn his way of fulfillment God’s plan of salvation: “how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.” In Gospel, St. Mark reported what happened in Christ’s baptism: “And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."” Let study all three readings in detail to find out their importance for our life.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: God’s Suffering Servant

           

1.1/ The relationship between God and the Suffering Servant: The prophet Isaiah wrote these words about the Suffering Servant: “Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations.”

            Who is the Suffering Servant whom Isaiah mentioned here? There are at least three opinions: Firstly, some say it is the Israelites as the whole because they are God’s chosen people. Secondly, some think it is Cyrus, the Persian king who obeyed God to set the Israelites free. Lastly, some believe he is Christ because none was loved by God more than His Beloved Son. According to Targum (the translation of Hebrew Scripture to Aramaic and Greek), the Suffering Servant is the Messiah. The third opinion has more weight. Moreover, the content of the passage also implied the Suffering Servant is an individual, not a nation. God can choose anyone to fulfill king Cyrus’ duty; but to fulfill His plan of salvation, there is only His Son who can fulfill His plan.

1.2/ The way of salvation of the Suffering Servant: Isaiah described this way as follows: “He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.”

            There is a harmony between God and the Suffering Servant in their way to bring about the final result, which uses love, truth and faith. This way is completely different with human way of governing, which uses threat, force and secret plans.

1.3/ The Suffering Servant’s mission: The Lord said: “I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations,to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

            - The Suffering Servant is the covenant between God and people: In Sinai’s covenant, Moses was only the mediator of the covenant between God and His people; in the New Covenant, the Suffering Servant is the covenant. This means all blessings of the covenant are begun and given from this Suffering Servant. To welcome him is to receive blessings and to deny him is to refuse blessings; because without him, there is no blessings.

            - The Suffering Servant is the light to the nations: Parallel with the position “the covenant” is the position “the light to the nation.” This means not only he is the one who brings light or the one who guides people to light, but also he himself is the light. The light is the salvation (Isa 49:6). The Gentiles who are sitting in the darkness of sins and death, he came “to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.”

2/ Reading II: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power.

           

2.1/ God’s plan of salvation included both the Jews and the Gentiles: The author of this Letter, after was revealed by Christ about the plan of salvation, testified: “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached.” Only such kind of plan guarantees God’s justice and mercy.

2.2/ Christ persecuted God’s plan of salvation: The author continued: You know “how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.”

 

3/ Gospel: "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."

 

Year A: (Mt 3:13-17)

           

3.1/ The absurdity: Only Matthew highlighted John Baptist’s denial when Jesus asked John Baptist to baptize him. He said to Jesus, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?"Jesus said to him in reply, "Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed him.

            First of all, we need to understand the historical background of this event. The Judaism used this baptism to show the repentance of sins; but only for the Gentiles who want to converse to Judaism. The Jews never think of receiving this baptism. But many Jews came to John Baptist to receive the baptism by him. This is a strange event; they might feel that the Messiah is coming and John Baptist’s preaching urged them to repent in order to receive the salvation. John told them, “Do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones” (Mt 3:9). Jesus would like to use this opportunity to show himself that he is the Messiah whom they are looking for.

           

3.2/ The Father witnessed for Christ: Matthew reported, “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."”

            In Matthew, it is the Father who witnessed His relationship with Christ for people. In Mark, the Father directly said to Jesus and indirectly witnessed His relationship with Christ for people.

Year B: (Mk 1:7-11)

3.1/ There is a big difference between Jesus’ baptism and John’s: John Baptist differentiated between these two baptisms as follows: “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

            - John Baptist’s baptism is done by a man; its purpose is for the repentance of sins. It isn’t for the forgiveness of sins because no man has power to forgive sins.

            - Jesus’ baptism is done by God, the One who is mightier than man. The one who receives this baptism shall receive the forgiveness of sins, anoint by the Holy Spirit, and receive all necessary grace.

           

3.2/ What happened in Jesus’ baptism: St. Mark reported briefly this event as follows: “In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."”

            (1) Why did Jesus receive baptism by John Baptist? John Baptist’s baptism is for the repentance of sins; why did Jesus, who never commits sin, want to be baptized by John? Even John himself prevented Jesus: ““I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented” (Mt 3:14-15). St. Ambrose gave us another reason: Christ, the most holy one, received baptism to sanctify water of Jordan River. The Church uses this water to baptize the faithful.

            (2) The Holy Spirit’s image of a dove: Jewish tradition uses the image of a dove for the meekness, as the prophet Isaiah described the Suffering Servant. He wins over people, not by threatened words nor by force; but by his love and patience. Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit to begin his public mission.

            (3) The Father’s voice from heaven: Mark’s report of the Father’s voice was directly to the Son: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.” The Father directly said to His Son and expressed His pleasing of what the Son has done. Matthew’s report was directed to people as: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). If one studied carefully, one shall see Mark’s report is closer with Isaiah than Matthew’s.

Year C: (Lk 3:15-16, 21-22)

           

3.1/ The difference between Jesus and John Baptist: Luke reported as follows, “Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. 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.”

            Beside the difference between Jesus and John Baptist in power, John also mentioned the difference between the two baptisms:

            + By water: This is John Baptist’s baptism. He helps people to repent and to prepare them for the Messiah’s coming.

            + By Holy Spirit and fire: This is Jesus’ baptism. Not only that this Baptism can forgive sins but the Holy Spirit can also sanctify people by grace and gifts so that they can become virtuous and holy, worthy of God’s children.

           

3.2/ Other highlights of Luke’s account:

            (1) Jesus prayed when he was baptized: “After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was openedand 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."” In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is always unified with the Father in prayer.

            (2) The relationship between the Father and Jesus: Luke emphasized the relationship between the Father and the Son. All main Greek version have the Father’s witness, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” One version has a strange idea when it said, “Today, I have begotten you.” This must be the Gnostic correction because this people believe that Jesus was adopted by God at his baptism.

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            - Each one of us received Christ’s baptism which means we are anointed to be a priest, a prophet and a king; do we fulfill our duties?

            - Three missions of Christ’s are also our three duties.

            (1) The prophetic mission: Do we talk about God to people? At least to those who we have obligation to; for examples, our children. In order to fulfill his duties, Christ spent 30 years to have conversation with his Father before he began his public ministry in three years. How much time did we spend to learn about God and Christ? We need to remind ourselves that we can’t give to our children what we don’t have.

            (2) The priestly mission: Do we worship God above all things? Do we set good examples and show our chidren the way to God? Or we are indifferent in worship and prayer. When we spent too much time for working to earn money, we are teaching our children to worship mammon instead of the only One God.

            (3) The kingly mission: Do we use God’s time, talent and fortune to serve God and others? Or we are wasting our time, talent and fortune on gambling, drinking, illegal relationship... so that we and our family must be suffered. Moreover, we must also examine the ways we used to serve people: do we use love, patience, teaching and encouraging instead of blaming, threatening, scorning, power and force?

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