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Faith grows when it is lived, communicated
Based on Is 40:1-5, 9-11; Ti 2:11-14; 3:4-7; and Gospel of Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
Fast-forward in time from the Gospels of the past few weeks about the infant Jesus to this Sunday’s Gospel and the baptism of the adult Jesus. Other than the finding of the young Jesus in the temple (Lk 2:41-52), Scripture doesn’t tell us much about the years between Jesus as a toddler and the beginning of his teaching ministry or “public” life at age 30.
Preparing for the coming of the Messiah, John the Baptist boldly called people to repentance, to confession of sins and to immersion in the Jordan River for the forgiveness of sins and a change of heart.
Jesus, who doesn’t need to repent or be forgiven for anything, approached John to be baptized. Right there, Jesus took upon himself the guilt for our sins. Jesus’ baptism by John in the Jordan River was the first step in Jesus’ acceptance of his Father’s will – the way of the cross leading to his death and Resurrection. These brought about our redemption from sin and gained for us everlasting life in heaven – all because of God’s love for us.
As Jesus came up from the water, the sky opened and the Holy Spirit appeared as a dove and hovered over him. God the Father spoke from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
Jesus will now begin the work his Father sent him to do – proclaiming the Kingdom of God by teaching about God’s love, healing the sick and disabled and forgiving people their sins.
Jesus will begin his mission with power and miracles. He will teach his apostles to carry on his work. That work continues today through his church.
Our baptism was also a beginning. Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, each of us became God’s beloved child in whom he is well pleased. We were welcomed into the family of God, his church, and began our lives of faith. We received a new life of grace through water and the Holy Spirit to begin our Christian mission, which is the same as Jesus’ mission – to proclaim God’s kingdom of love for all people by our words and actions.
The Holy Father’s general prayer intention for January is “The Faith of Christians.” That in this Year of Faith, Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
He calls us to rediscover the truths of our faith, especially through the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but also to remind us, “Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy.”