OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

The Baptism of the Lord (Year C)

It may seem strange, but this is a Christmas Feast. Not if we think of Christmas only in terms of the Baby in Bethlehem, but if we have followed the ideas of the Feasts of Holy Family and especially Epiphany, and have seen the Season in terms of the growing manifestation or appearing of the Son of God: first to the shepherds and then to the wise men from the East. Now in the River Jordan, Jesus, Son of Mary, is revealed to all as the fullness of all God’s promises: “This is my Son, the Beloved”.
On this day we stand before the revelation of God’s love for us, such that he would send his only Son into the world. Christmas without the Baptism of the Lord, and the words that are spoken from heaven, would be incomplete, since it is only in them that we fully see the wonder of what happened in Bethlehem. As we come to the end of Christmas today, and look forward to hearing the Gospels in Ordinary Time, we do so having been shown who it is we listen to: the only Son of God, the Beloved.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5.9-11
 
We return to John the Baptist as the voice preparing the way of the Lord, as we heard in Advent: since this feast is the revelation of the Messiah to all nations, the line “then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all mankind shall see it” is of special significance and should be emphasised. The reading should build up to that point, starting very gently with “Console my people...” and growing through the “voice in the wilderness”. The second half of the reading can stay at that peak - imagine yourself standing by the River Jordan proclaiming these words after Jesus has come up from the water!
 
Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14.3:4-7
 
Again the key is “revelation”, the appearing of the glory of God as Jesus is baptised. This reading links two ideas beautifully: that “Jesus is revealed” (by the voice from heaven) and that Baptism (which Jesus transformed by being baptised) is our way of taking part in what was revealed. Read through this carefully before hand, to get the meaning clear in your own mind. This will tell you what to emphasise when reading out loud.
PIero della Fancesca "The Baptism of Christ"

From the Catechism

The Baptism of Jesus
535 - 537; 1223 - 1225
 
536 The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God's suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners; he is already "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world". Already he is anticipating the "baptism" of his bloody death. Already he 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. At his baptism "the heavens were opened" - the heavens that Adam's sin had closed - and the waters were sanctified by the descent of Jesus and the Spirit, a prelude to the new creation.
 
The Sacrament of Baptism
1213; 1253 - 1255

Gospel Wordsearch

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