As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
Catholic baptism today is most often a small ceremony featuring a very young child and loving parents and family. Still, it’s a moving moment, and I believe a child really hears/feels/senses its message: “you are our beloved child – we’re delighted in you!” Jesus heard that loud and clear; it must have given him huge consolation: he was, after all, as human as we are.
But Peter’s words add another note to today’s feast: “catholicity.” Its Greek root means ‘universality.’ “I see,” Peter says, “that God shows no partiality. Rather…whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
In a world as polarized as ours (often by religion!), we need to hear and grasp that message. Jesus exemplified it all his life: he accepted everyone and his acceptance changed lives: the Samaritan woman (with five ‘husbands’), Matthew and Zaccheus (hated Roman tax-extractors), Peter (despite his traitorous denial). Only Judas refused his mercy.
—Fr. Jack O’Callaghan, S.J. assists the Dean at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine with programs in Ignatian Spirituality..
Loving God, help us to trust we are loved by you, and thus empower us to accept your other sons and daughters, whomever they may be. Amen.Please share the Good Word with your friends!