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By Our Baptism…
Thursday after Epiphany
Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news of him spread throughout the whole region. He taught in their synagogues and was praised by all. He came to Nazareth, where he had grown up, and went according to his custom into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and found the passage where it was written: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.
Rolling up the scroll, he handed it back to the attendant and sat down, and the eyes of all in the synagogue looked intently at him. He said to them, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” And all spoke highly of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
Opening Prayer: Lord Jesus, you know me even better than I know myself. You know my past, my present, my future. In my Baptism, I was anointed and incorporated into your body. Lord, in this moment of prayer I ask you to increase my faith, hope, and love, that I may hear your voice more clearly and know how better to live my life in and for you.
- He Taught, and Was Praised by All: As Jesus taught, he was praised by all, and after he read the scroll, the people spoke highly of him. They were amazed at his “gracious words.” This was a fleeting moment in Jesus’ life. Almost immediately following it, people began to question, asking, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” In the Gospel of Mark, this doubt was made even more explicit: “‘Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary…’ And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house’” (Mark 6:3-4). As his public ministry progressed, his life was filled with questioning and opposition. Despite these obstacles to his mission, Jesus persevered in that for which he had come. He could recall his Baptism, when the Holy Spirit descended upon him, and his Father’s voice came from Heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). We can look at our lives in the light of Christ and ask ourselves who it is we look to for approval. It is pleasant for others to think well of us, and we can sometimes accommodate ourselves to others’ opinions—family, friends, or coworkers. We can compromise in our speech and action to fit in and be accepted. Let us ask ourselves if we seek the Father’s voice of affirmation above all other voices?
- The Spirit of the Lord Is upon Me: Through our Baptism, we are called to share in the life and mission of Christ. We are “made sharers in the priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions of Christ” (Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 31). Through our prayer and sacrifices, our witness to the Truth, and our self-possession and servant leadership, we are called to make a difference in our world. The Church teaches that our vocation as laypeople is characterized by a “secular nature” in which we “seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God” (Lumen Gentium, n. 31). When Mordecai challenged Queen Esther to step out in faith to save her people, he said, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). God chose for us to be born in this time, and he calls us to work to build his Kingdom in the world in which we live.
- Today This Scripture Passage Is Fulfilled: Our Lord was confident in his mission. With everyone’s eyes on him, he stated boldly that this prophecy from Isaiah was fulfilled. Such confidence grew out of his union with his Father. He knew that what he was doing and saying was that for which he had been sent into the world by the Father. In our own lives, we need to spend time with Our Lord to listen to what he has to say to us so that we may grow in confidence that we are fulfilling his will for our lives. We will grow in the trust that is required to take the next step in his plan, to do the next thing to which we are called, even if we can’t see the whole plan or understand how everything will work out.
Conversing with Christ: Lord, you show me such trust in your Father’s will. You show total commitment to living out all that he asked through your words and deeds. You never took your eyes off him and his will, no matter what challenge you encountered. Neither were you swayed by the opinions or disapproval of others. Lord, I want that kind of conviction and courage. I want that kind of love. Lord, open my eyes to see anything in my life that is a barrier to living my faith authentically and fully, and give me the courage to put it aside. Lord, let me love you more and more each day.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will find a tangible symbol of my Baptism–my baptismal garment or candle, a picture, or maybe just the date, if I don’t have anything else–and I will reflect on my Baptism and the impact it should have on my life.
For Further Reflection: Read one of these essays on what it means to live as priest, prophet, and king:
“How to Live Out Your Baptismal Call of Priest, Prophet, and King” and
“Priests, Prophets, Kings” by Bishop Robert Barron.
Janet McLaughlin and her husband, Chris, live on a mountain in rural northeastern Oregon. She puts her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies to work as she shares the beauty and importance of the lay vocation in her writing, speaking, and teaching on spiritual topics.