My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways my ways

The Baptism of the Lord

Isaiah 55:1-11

Thus says the LORD:
All you who are thirsty,
come to the water!
You who have no money,
come, receive grain and eat;
come, without paying and without cost,
drink wine and milk!
Why spend your money for what is not bread,
your wages for what fails to satisfy?
Heed me, and you shall eat well,
you shall delight in rich fare.
Come to me heedfully,
listen, that you may have life.
I will renew with you the everlasting covenant,
the benefits assured to David.
As I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander of nations,
so shall you summon a nation you knew not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the LORD, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, who has glorified you.

Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked man his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.

For just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

John 5:1-9

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one who testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.
So there are three that testify,
the Spirit, the water, and the blood,
and the three are of one accord.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.

Mark 1:7-11

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways my ways
May Tam
Baptism of the Lord

Baptism of the Lord

This Sunday concludes the Christmas season and marks the beginning of Ordinary Time in our liturgical year. But at the same time, it also celebrates another epiphany (apart from Christmas itself and the Visitation of the Magi). It is the epiphany of the Holy Trinity—God the Father (voice), God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit (like a dove) and the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.

It is interesting to note that of all the many awesome miracles that Jesus performed, not in any of those moments did God manifest Himself and praise him. So what makes “the heaven torn apart” and the utterance of the loving praise: “You are my Son, the Beloved, with you I am well pleased.”? (Mark 1:11)

Just like Isaiah in the First Reading reveals that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts nor are His ways our ways, so God crowns His Son not because of his marvelous deeds but because of his submission. It is the submission of letting himself to be baptized by someone who is merely his herald; the subjection to human ritual of repentance even though he is sinless and the willingness to share human burden by dying to self and born again. It is the Son’s obedience and humility that please the Father. In the Second Reading, John points out in like manner, the obedience and humility of the Son though from a different perspective: “for the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments.” (1 John 5:3) To obey God’s commandments is to follow His will which Jesus, the Son, has been doing all through his earthly ministry. Obedience and humility are the trademarks of his love for the Father who is then so pleased that He called His son “the Beloved” not only in this spectacular testimony but also in the Transfiguration episode (rf Mt 17:1-8, Mk 9:2-8, Lk 9:28-36).

In 2002, in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope St. John Paul II promulgated the addition of the Luminous Mysteries to the traditional mysteries of the Rosary, beginning with the Baptism of Our Lord. It is fitting that the Mysteries of Light (as they are also called), which focus on Jesus’ public life, start with his baptism. It is in this scene of epiphany that the light of the Divine manifests and illumines our human eyes and minds. So besides as an annual feast to celebrate, we can now meditate as we pray the Rosary this investiture of our Lord as our Messiah; our own baptismal calling as children of God and the type of acts that will please our Father in heaven just like Jesus did.

Spiritual Talk
Fr. Anthony Ho
This Sunday is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and Fr. Anthony Ho explains to us the events surrounding the Baptism of Jesus in the River Jordan. The Sacrament of Baptism allows us to leave sin behind in order to receive the saving grace of God, while the descent of the Holy Spirit gives us new life and allows us to become the sons and daughters of God.
Listen >

May Tam

 
May Tam, Bachelor of Social Science (University of Hong Kong), Master of Theological Studies (University of Toronto)