Monday, January 08, 2007

Monday word, 08 Jan 2007

Baptism of the Lord (08 Jan 2007) Ac 10. 34-38; Ps 104; Lk 3. 15-16,-21-22
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Our Purpose, Our Mission

We pray that we are “a people set apart”/1/ by the Trinity to extend their work in the world. That is why we were created: the Trinity created us in the divine image as stewards of creation. /2/ “Set apart” has precise meaning in Scripture and Christian worship and catechesis. We don’t set apart ourselves. No. God selects us and shapes us by Jesus’ Spirit to be Jesus’ ambassadors in the world. In Scripture anointing with oil recognized Holy Spirit setting apart people for service as priests, prophets, monarchs. Anointing--God’s choosing--and praying went together.

Samuel conversed with the Lord and was sent to anoint David king. Isaiah had a vision of the Holy One filling the temple, when the Holy One appointed Isaiah a prophet. /3/ The Holy One wasn’t limited to professional prophets who often would speak what powerful ones wanted to hear. Such a one was Amos, who described himself: “I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now therefore hear the word of the LORD.” /4/

God’s greatest prophet, Jesus, came to restore the divine image in humans. While he was praying after being baptized, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus in bodily form and a voice set him apart as God’s beloved son. Jesus was set apart as no other.

By our baptisms we become sharers in Jesus the Son; we share in the prophetic mission of Jesus; by his Spirit we share his risen life and make him present in the world. This sharing in Jesus’ presence, life and mission means that baptism sets us apart as servants like Jesus.

St. Leo the Great encouraged us “to be servants, as best we can, of the grace that invites all people to find Christ.” /5/ To rejoice and to ponder Christ’s baptism leads us to rejoice and to ponder our own, and to pray that we may live better the baptism which unites us to him. the same baptism which bids us invite others to Jesus.

1. Sacramentary, Preface 29
2. Ibid., Preface 33.
3. The scene is in Isaiah, Chapter 6.
4. Amos 7.15-16
5. Sermon 3 on Epiphany, Office of Readings, Liturgy of the Hours, vol.1, p561.

Photo in the public domain. Source: Wikimedia.

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