Theme: IN BAPTISM JESUS BECAME THE SON OF GOD, THE SUFFERING SERVANT OF GOD, AND THE LAMB OF GOD
- Isaiah 49:3. 5-6
- Psalm 39:2. 4. 7-10. R. v. 8. 9
- 1 Corinthians 1:1-3
- John 1:29-34
Today is the Second Sunday of the Year. Last Sunday we celebrated the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and the last day of Christmastide. Today too the gospel tells us about the Baptism of the Lord and the beginning of the Lord’s mission and ministry.
The gospel tells us that when Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and he became “the Chosen One of God”, the Son of God, the Servant of God, the Suffering Servant of God, the Sacrificial Lamb of God who takes way the sin of the world! In this way he was to baptize with the Holy Spirit!
After his baptism, and after receiving the Holy Spirit, Jesus not only became “the Chosen One of God”, the Son of God, but he also became the Servant of God, the Suffering Servant of God, and the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! In this way, that is, in the way of his life of service, suffering, death, and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he baptized with the Holy Spirit!
The first reading is from Isaiah. It is the second of 4 songs of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh (God). Though the word suffering is not mentioned in this reading, it is important to remember that Jesus was not only a servant of God, but he was also a suffering servant and lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
The first reading tells us that the suffering servant of God suffers and sacrifices not only for the salvation of Israel, but also for the salvation of the whole world! “It is not enough for you to be my servant, to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back the survivors of Israel; I will make you the light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth”! (Is 49:6)
Why all the nations? Because all the nations, irrespective of nationality, race, religion, culture, color, etc., need the salvation of God, that is, his love, mercy, and forgiveness!
The responsorial psalm today is a thanksgiving psalm. The responsorial psalm tells us that we do not thank God only by worship and animal sacrifice, but we also thank God by being obedient to him and doing his will! And the will of God is that we proclaim his saving justice (NJB), that we do not close our mouths, but that we open our mouths and proclaim his salvation! (CSB/NAB)
“Your justice I have proclaimed in the great assembly. My lips I have not sealed; you know it, O Lord”! (Ps 39:10)
Again, it is important to note that the word “justice” is not to be understood only as “fair play” or “legal equity”, but also as saving justice and salvation!
The second reading is from the first letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians. The second reading tells us that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ send us grace and peace! Again, it is all grace, favor, and blessing! We have heard it all in the gospel, the first reading, and the responsorial psalm! It is all grace! How can it be otherwise! It is not the Law! It is grace! We do not deserve it!
Peace! Again, as we have been told in the gospel of Luke at Christmas Midnight Mass, that it is not the peace of Caesar Augustus, who brought peace (absence of war) to the Roman Empire through political, economic, and military power, but the peace of Jesus Christ, who brought peace to the world by becoming the servant of God, the suffering servant of God, and the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Jesus Christ brought peace to the world through his service, suffering, death and resurrection, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins! The peace of Jesus Christ is not only an “absence of war”, but it is also the love, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation, and salvation of God!
In Baptism, we also received the Holy Spirit, and like Jesus Christ, we also became the sons/daughters of God, the servants of God, the suffering servants of God, the lambs of God who take away the sin of the world!
In Eucharist, we celebrate his death and resurrection, and we eat his body and drink his blood, and the Risen Lord will continue to give us his Holy Spirit, so that we will grow as sons and daughters of God, as servants of God, as suffering servants of God, and as lambs of God who take away the sin of the world, so that we will grow in the Holy Spirit and “baptize with the Holy Spirit”!
Parish Priest of St Mary, Tawau, Sabah East Malaysia.