Sunday Church at Home – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

 

Sunday Church at Home

during lockdown in the Coronavirus Pandemic

 

Jesus begins his public life.

 

The lay leader makes the sign of the cross, saying:

 

Leader:          In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

 

All reply:        Amen

 

Leader:          Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

All reply:        Blessed be God for ever

 

Leader:          Today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. We learn that God the Father blesses his “Beloved”, his Son Jesus, who, with the Holy Spirit, will bring healing and peace to the whole world.

 

 

LITURGY OF THE WORD

 

First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11

 

Introduction to the reading: The prophet speaks of the prospect of a new deliverance of Israel by God, one of rich promises and fulfillment.  On the people’s part it requires not only repentance, but also an openness and trust in the inscrutable ways of God.  His word is always active and effective in carrying out his saving plan.

 

A reading from the Book of Isaiah

Thus says the Lord;
“Ho, every one who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
and I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
Behold, you shall call nations that you know not,
and nations that knew you not shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, and of the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.

“Seek the Lord while he may be found,
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous person his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return not there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

 

The word of the Lord.

 

 

Responsorial psalm: Isaiah 12:2-3.4bcd.5-6(R.3)

 

R/: With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

“Behold, God is my salvation,
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
For the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”

“Give thanks to the Lord
call upon his name;
make known his deeds among the nations,
proclaim that his name is exalted.”

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
Shout and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

R/: With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation

 

 

Second reading: 1 John 5:1-9

Introduction to the reading: St John draws a parallel between our life as believers, and the life of Jesus our redeemer.  As the Spirit moved Jesus from his Baptism to his death, from water to blood, that same Spirit also leads us through our baptism to a share in Christ’s passion and resurrection

 

A reading from the first Letter of Saint John

Beloved:
Every one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a child of God,
and every one who loves the parent loves the child.
By this we know that we love the children of God,
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome.|
For whatever is born of God overcomes the world;
and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.
Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is he who came by water and blood,
Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood.
And the Spirit is the witness, because the Spirit is the truth.
There are three witnesses,
the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree.
If we receive the testimony of men,
the testimony of God is greater;
for this is the testimony of God that he has borne witness to his Son.

The word of the Lord.

 

Alleluia, alleluia.
John saw Jesus coming towards  him and said:  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Alleluia!

 

Gospel: Mark 1:7-11

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark

At that time:
John preached, saying,
“After me comes he who is mightier than I,
the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
I have baptized you with water;
but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
And when he came up out of the water,
immediately he saw the heavens opened
and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove;
and a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

 

Reflection on the Readings

The leader reads the text prepared by the priest and leads the sharing.

 

Homily

 

There is an African parable about a lion cub raised by goats.  The cub learned to bleat and nibble grass and behave like a goat.  One night a lion attacked the goats, which scattered for safety.  But the lion cub kept grazing and crying like a goat without getting frightened.  The old lion roared, “What are you doing here, living with these cowardly goats?”  He grabbed the cub by the scruff, dragged him to a pond and said: “Look how our faces reflected in water!  Now you know who you are and whose you are.”  The lion took the cub home, taught him how to catch animals, eat their meat, roar and act like a lion.  The lion cub thus discovered his true self.

Today we are reminded  about  Jesus receiving from Heaven a fresh flash of realization of who He really was (His identity) and of what He was supposed to do (His mission), on the day of his baptism in the river Jordan.

I love celebrating the sacrament of baptism. It is always a happy occasion. A young child has recently been received into their family with great joy and celebration, and now they are being received again into another family, the family of the church – God’s community. In being received into this family, the children become our brothers and sisters in the Lord, sons and daughters of God, and temples of the Spirit.

The joy of the occasion is palpable, especially when the parents and godparents come up to the baptismal font and the water is poured over the head of the child by the celebrant. Each child is anointed before and after baptism with holy oil: Before baptism the child is anointed with the oil of catechumens and this reminds us that baptism takes away original sin. After baptism, the child is anointed with the oil of chrism; this reminds us that when we are baptised we share in Christ’s threefold ministry of prophet, priest and king.

The white garment the child wears reminds that being baptised is clothing ourselves with Christ. The baptismal candle is lit and is a sign the light of Christ which must be kept burning brightly. The whole occasion is somehow uplifting in a way that is unique to that sacrament.

The vast majority of our baptisms are of children. They are oblivious to all that is happening around them. A big decision is being made on their behalf without their knowing anything about it. Yet, just as parents make all kinds of other big decisions for their children without consulting them, so parents are happy to make this particular significant decision on their behalf.  find it disturbing that sometimes parents don’t have their child baptised and say – Oh the child can decide when he or she is an adult. This sometimes can happen in a mixed marriage with different religions. Parents like this are not carrying out their parental responsibility. It is like saying – I wont send my child to school, I will let decide whether to go to school when they are adults.

There is a story in the gospels of parents bringing little children to Jesus. When the disciples tried to stop parents doing this, Jesus rebuked his disciples and said to them, ‘let the children come to me and do not stop them, for to such as these the kingdom of God belongs.’ Parents continue to bring their children to Jesus today whenever they present them for baptism, because in baptism they are being baptized into the person of Christ; they become members of his body; Jesus begins to live within them through the Spirit. When parents bring their children for baptism they are making a decision for them that is very much in keeping with the Lord’s desire. ‘Let the children come to me and do not stop them.’

Today we celebrate the feast of the baptism of Jesus. It is a good day to reflect on our own baptism and its significance for us. The day of Jesus’ baptism was a watershed in his life; it was a day of new beginning. On that day he began his public ministry during which he gave himself fully in the service of God and all of God’s people. On that day Jesus launched forth as the one who came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. As he set out on that momentous journey for all of us, he was assured of God his Father’s favour, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’, and he was empowered by the Holy Spirit, who descended upon him like a dove.

Even though Jesus received the baptism of John as an adult and we received Christian baptism as children, our baptism was also a day of new beginning for us. On that day we were launched on the great adventure of becoming disciples of Jesus in our own time. On that day, we too, like Jesus, were given an assurance of God’s love and favour, and we too were empowered by the Holy Spirit for the journey that lay before us. On that day we were caught up into Jesus’ own very special relationship with God and we became a member of Jesus’ family of disciples, the church. It is a momentous occasion that has the potential to shape our lives in a very fundamental way, in a way that is in keeping with God’s purpose for our lives.

In a sense we spend the rest of our lives trying to catch up with that day of new beginning. We are baptized as children but it is as adults that we confirm our baptism for ourselves. It is as adults that we say our own adult ‘yes’ to the Lord who said ‘yes’ to us as young children on the day of our baptism. It may be in our late twenties or our thirties or forties or even later that we come to say that ‘yes’ with all our heart and soul and mind.

It is often in those mature years that we can hear the call of Isaiah in today’s first reading, ‘O come to the water all you who are thirsty, Seek the Lord while he is still to be found, call to him while he is still near.’ The Lord keeps calling out to us from the moment of our baptism, and as the Lord declares in that first reading, ‘the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.’

Our response to the Lord’s call, the Lord’s word, can be slow in coming, but his call, his word, remains powerfully creative and will in some way or other make of us what God wants for us.

From today’s Gospel reading:

And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened
and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

Reflection:

John the Baptist promised that Jesus would baptize us with the Spirit. Baptism inaugurated Jesus’ mission and Mark reminds us that, through our baptism, we too are sent on mission. We are not baptized into a stay-at-home community to enjoy our gatherings, sing our hymns and say our prayers. Through our baptism each of us has been called to serve others in Christ’s name.

So we ask ourselves:

  • Am I aware that baptism means more than membership in a church?
  • What mission has the Holy Spirit given me as a baptized Christian?

 

 

 

Prayer of the Faithful

 

Leader:          Let us bring our prayer to God the Father through his beloved Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Reader:

We pray for Christians everywhere: (pause) through our common baptism, may we foster unity among the churches, so that we may live as one people and promote God’s love throughout the world.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for church leaders: (pause) that they may become immersed in the lives of the people they serve and support those who are vulnerable, poor and oppressed.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for those who work for peace and justice: (pause) that we may nurture the paths to peace among our neighbours and all nations.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for God’s creation: (pause) that we may serve as protectors of the natural world given to us by God.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for an end to the Coronavirus pandemic: (pause) that God will free us from this dangerous virus, make the vaccines effective, and help us rebuild our communities of faith.

LORD HEAR US

 

We pray for deceased members of our families and friends whose anniversaries occur about this time.

LORD HEAR US

 

Leader:          Let us pray for healing:

 

Loving and healing God,
we turn to you in prayer in this time of Level 3 lockdown.
We are confident that you are with us

and with all people in every moment.
We stand before you as people of hope,

trusting in your care and protection.
May your faithful love support us

and soothe the anxiety of our hearts.

 

Generous God,
fill us with compassion and concern for others,

young and old,
that we may look after one another

in these challenging days.
Bring healing to those who are sick with the virus

and be with their families.
May those who have died rest in your eternal embrace.
Comfort their family and friends.
Strengthen and protect all medical professionals caring for the sick
and all who work in our medical facilities.
Give wisdom to leaders in healthcare and governance
that the rollout of vaccines may be swift and efficacious.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

Spiritual Communion

We can unite ourselves to the Eucharist through making a spiritual Communion.

By making an Act of Spiritual Communion, we express our faith in Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist and ask him to unite himself with us.

 

My Jesus, I believe you are really here in the Blessed Sacrament.
I love you more than anything in the world, and I hunger to receive you.
But since I cannot receive Communion at this moment, feed my soul at least spiritually. I unite myself to you now as I do when I actually receive you. Amen.

 

 

CONCLUDING RITE

 

Leader:          Let us pray to the Father in the words Jesus our Saviour gave us:

 

All say:          Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  Amen.

Leader:           God of salvation,

in the river Jordan you bathed your Son Jesus in glory

and revealed him as your obedient servant.

In spirit and in power

rend the heavens and come down to us.

Strengthen us to acknowledge your Christ,

that we who are reborn in his likeness

may walk with him the path of obedience.

Grant this through Jesus Christ, your Word made flesh,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

in the splendour of eternal light,

God for ever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Blessing

 

A leader who is a layperson, using no gesture, says:

 

Leader:          May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil and bring us to everlasting life.

 

All:                  Amen.