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Sunday Commentary

Last Sunday

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From Word to Eucharist

Jesus certainly saw the Spirit; do we?Β  Does the Spirit show us more than a simple procession?

READ MORE at Lector Works
INTROFIRSTPSALMSECONDGOSPELCATENA AUREA

Sunday Introduction

Baptism of the Lord (B)

USCCB BULLETIN INSERT

Sunday’s Opening Prayer

Lectio by Julie Storr

NCR’s Celebration Resources

Liturgical and pastoral resources from National Catholic Reporter’s Celebration 2018 archive. Each Saturday, NCR publishes reflections on the Sunday readings for the current year.

INTRO TO READINGS

____

by Sr. Mary M. McGlone β€” 2018

No commentary for this week

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.
LITURGICAL PLANNING

Planning: ____ (B)

by Lawrence Mick β€” 2018

No column this week.

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved.
PRAYERS FOR MASS

Presider’s Introduction

by Joan DeMerchant β€” 2018

This Christmas season ends with a beginning β€” we celebrate Jesus’ baptism and initiation into his ministry. The ancient promise of justice to Israel is fulfilled in him whose mission, empowered by the Spirit, will focus on peace and justice. Our baptism mirrors his as the beginning of what we are called to be and do. We are all empowered to be instruments of peace and justice and to invite others to join us.

Penitential Act

by Joan DeMerchant β€” 2018
  • Lord Jesus, you were baptized by John and empowered by the Holy Spirit: Lord, have mercy.
  • Christ Jesus, you were called by God to bring forth justice and peace: Christ, have mercy.
  • Lord Jesus, you likewise call and empower us through our own baptism: Lord, have mercy.

Prayer of the Faithful

by Joan DeMerchant β€” 2018

Presider Let us pray now about the work we are called to do and the concerns of the world.

Minister For the church: that it may vigorously embrace and celebrate all cultures and people across the earth, we pray:

  • For those still longing for justice and peace in violence-ridden neighborhoods, substandard housing, refugee camps or at our nation’s borders, we pray:
  • For a peaceful and just resolution to the struggle between Israel and Palestine and within conflict-torn nations in Latin America and the Middle East; and for those who strive for diplomatic solutions, we pray:
  • For those whose lives have been adversely affected by those who call themselves Christians but do not act as followers of Christ and for those who struggle to understand the interface between the Gospel and complex social issues or politics, we pray:
  • For those who use religion especially Christianity as a weapon for persecuting others, especially people of other faiths or those who interpret the Gospel differently, we pray:
  • For a commitment to creatively share our faith with family members and friends, co-workers and neighbors through our words, actions and parish ministries, we pray:

Presider Gracious God, at his baptism, you called Jesus, to be a new, living sign of your justice and peace. Give us the courage to live our own baptismal call and to evangelize others to join us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, your beloved Son. Amen.

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Presiders are encouraged to adapt these prayers to reflect Covid 19.

First Reading

Baptism of the Lord (B)

commentary
The Isaiah Scroll is the only complete biblical book surviving among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Found in Cave One at Qumran in 1947, it dates from about 120 BCE. The text of the scroll hardly differs from the version used today and demonstrates the degree to which the text of the Bible was faithfully transmitted over the centuries. The Isaiah scroll is approximately seven metres long and is made up of 17 parchment sheets, sewn end to end. PHOTO: Reproduction made from the original scrolls kept in the Shrine of the Book, Jerusalem

"Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations," β€” Isaiah 42:1

Key Points

I have called you for the victory of justice.

Is 42:1-4, 6-7 or Is 55:1-11

  • Today’s reading is the first of the four β€œsuffering servant songs” from Isaiah.
  • These songs depict a chosen servant who must suffer much because of faithfulness to God.
  • The suffering servant songs have been linked to Jesus Christ.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ FIRST READING πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Reflections

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Fr. Clement Thibodeau

God’s servant gives sight to the blind

FIRST READING β€” The Book of Isaiah contains four β€œServant Songs.” This is the first. (Others are: 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13 –53:12.) The ideal Servant of the Lord in Israel. When Israel is led to be the Messiah, it will truly be the Servant. The Servant sums up all the desirable attributes of God’s people. In this Song, the Servant is depicted as one who would represent a highlyplaced court official. His mission and courtly style are described: With gentleness the Servant will bring justice. That is, he will bring the people into a covenant relationship with God and with one another. Through him, the Covenant of old will be extended to all nations, particularly to the oppressed. The Christian community has read into this prophecy the name of Jesus, especially in baptism accounts. Notice that even without a Christian application, this passage already prophesies that Gentiles will be invited to become part of the Chosen.

Β© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

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Fr. Eamon Tobin

Recognizing God’s surprises

FIRST READING β€” The exhortation β€œto seek the Lord while he may be found” does not mean that God is about to relocate or hide. God is always present to us. But we may not always have a desire to seek him. The reading also reminds us that β€œGod’s ways and thoughtsare not our ways and thoughts.” God is a God of surprises. A part of developing a strong faith life is noticing β€˜God’s surprises’ whether they are good or painful.

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

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Sr. Mary McGlone

Here is my servant

FIRST READING β€” Anyone who reads both the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures can note how important the prophet Isaiah was to the writers of the Gospels and letters. Isaiah’s songs of the Suffering Servant (See Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 52-53) were among the passages that best helped them understand Christ’s mission and how it was fulfilled in his passion. Knowing that, we can be fairly safe in assuming that Jesus too found great inspiration in Isaiah.

Jesus’ world was primarily oral rather than literate. Because of that, people who heard the Scriptures proclaimed would remember what they heard more clearly than most contemporary people who can look it up in a book. The words of psalms would have been as familiar to practicing Jews as popular song lyrics are to people in our world. The psalms and canticles would have shaped ancient people’s imaginations, hopes and expectations just as effectively as songs and jingles shape ours. (Think of the 2013 phenomenon β€œLet It Go,” the song from the movie Frozen, or the popularity of Frank Sinatra’s signature tune, β€œMy Way.”)

With that in mind, we might consider how the passage of Isaiah we hear today influenced Jesus’ self-concept. Knowing that he was like us in all things but sin, we can assume that Jesus had to discern and choose how he would live out his vocation. The Hebrew Scriptures, the law and the prophets, offered him a variety of options. As son of David, he could have seen himself as a warrior-king who would lead his people to victory over their enemies. That would have satisfied the revolutionaries among his followers.

Taking Moses as his model, he could have felt called to lead his people into a new land where they could start over again. That would have been a variation on the alternative offered by the Essenes who formed their own deeply committed communities, hoping that God would soon send the savior. Jesus also could have chosen the role of a prophet like John the Baptist who preached repentance and an ascetical way of life.

Jesus seemed to draw from each of those options, but he seemed to take more from Isaiah than from any other scriptural model or source. Knowing how Jesus used to go off by himself to pray, we can imagine him mulling over the phrases of Isaiah 42 until they formed his inner consciousness.

God’s declaration, β€œHere is my servant whom I uphold. … I have grasped him by the hand,” may have been the phrase that led him to teach his disciples to say, β€œGive us this day…” and β€œThy will be done.” We can easily see the connection between Jesus’ statement, β€œThe Father and I are one” (John 10:30), and God’s proclamation in Isaiah, β€œupon [him] I have put my spirit.” When it came to a pattern for carrying out his mission, Isaiah says β€œa bruised reed he shall not break.” Jesus told his disciples not to pull the weeds from the wheat field, lest they root up something good along with the bad (Matthew 13:24-30).

Today’s selection from Isaiah explains that the essence of the servant’s vocation is to establish justice among the nations. That justice was not a judicial sentence of reward and punishment, but something more like an atmosphere of peace among peoples. In his text on Isaiah (NIV Application Commentary Series), Scripture scholar John Oswalt explains that justice in this sense is the opposite of chaos. Justice creates an atmosphere of mutual understanding and safety. It becomes a way of life that promotes union among people, between people and God, and with all of creation. The vocation to bring about the victory of justice can be accomplished because the servant has received God’s own spirit.

When we contemplate Jesus meditating on this passage, we can find in it the roots of his mysticism, his sense of union with God. That should remind us that he also prayed for us: β€œMay they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us” (John 17:21).

This selection from Isaiah offers us both the opportunity to understand Jesus and to understand our own vocation as his beloved disciples, servants upon whom God is pleased to send the Spirit.

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2018 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Tips for Readers

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Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

Isaiah 55, 1-11

  • More water, abundance of water, is laid before us immediately. All you who are thirsty, come to the water! What an appropriate reading for this commemoration of the baptism of Jesus. I remind everyone of the abundance God gives.
  • I look on this reading as the reverse side of the covenant God has made with us, the covenant Jesus has made in his blood. God invites Israel to come to the feast and be filled with good things, eating well and delighting in rich fare.
  • The reading is entirely an oracle of the prophet, in the voice of God. I remind the assembly that this covenant is not made in our image and to our expectations.

Key elements

  • Central point: our ways are not God’s ways. We are being introduced to a higher plane of existence. And God delivers. We only see the results when time has passed and the rain has time to water the earth and make it fruitful. This summary point comes toward the end of the reading, and I must be attentive to it when it comes.
  • Message for our assembly: God has worked wonderful things through his son Jesus, just as he has spread the feast of this reading. Let us come and take part, let us seek the Lord and call him.
  • I will challenge myself: On a day of great abundance of water, I will make this feast so appetizing that my listeners will remember it.
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

Near the end of a desperate period of exile, God calls the Jews to be his servant and gives them an unexpected mission.

Isaiah 55:1-11

When the Judeans returned home after two generations in exile, rebuilding was distressingly slow. The prophet responded with images of hope: good food and drink, a worthy king, prestige among the nations; then a description of the power of the word of God.

Oral interpretation

The historical situation

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

The middle section of the book of the prophet Isaiah, chapters 40-55, is set in the period when the Jews were being permitted to return home from their exile in Babylon. Historically, a new emperor, the pagan Cyrus of Persia, had overthrown the Babylonians and ordered the release of the Jewish captives. Isaiah sees this in a cosmic context, and, in verses 41:1 through 42:9, he describes two “trials” in the court of heaven that vindicate the sovereignty of Israel’s Lord. Cyrus is described as the Lord’s instrument in his plan to free the Jews. Furthermore, all other gods, including the gods of the Babylonians, to whom some exiles were attracted, are convicted of impotence and stupidity. The second trial ends with today’s Lectionary passage, the selection of Israel as the Lord’s servant*, and the assignment of a mission to the servant.

Isaiah 55:1-11

In the sixth century B.C.E., the people of Judah spent a couple of generations in exile in Babylon. They were allowed to return, finally, but the rebuilding of Jerusalem and their shattered lives there was disappointingly slow. This passage comes from a part of Isaiah written in this depressed period.

The theological background

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

The passage raises these questions:

  1. What is the servant’s relationship to the Lord? (The Lord chooses the servant, upholds him, is pleased with him, gives the servant his spirit, forms the servant.)
  2. What is the servant to accomplish? (Establish justice on the earth, open the eyes of the blind, release prisoners and those in darkness.)
  3. How is the servant to behave? (Not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard, not breaking the bruised reed or quenching the smoldering wick; these are images of gentleness and patient understanding in the servant’s dealings with those to whom he is sent.)
  4. What is the scope of the servant’s mission? Wider than merely to the people of Israel. This is the meaning of “coastlands” and of “a light for the nations.”

Proclaiming it

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

One way: I recommend that the lector try to evoke one or both of two mysteries here. In the first place, Israel is being challenged to reach outside itself, and to become God’s instrument in a mission to other peoples. This was not a welcome development. However, it’s a logical consequence of what has gone before. If Israel’s Lord is the only “real” god, then the Lord is God over the pagan worshipers of other gods, and the Jews, willing or not, are the only people qualified to show the pagans this truth. In your proclamation, this calls for an emphasis on the “mission” aspects, on “nations,” “the earth,” “coastlands,” and “the people.”

Another way: Secondly, since this is the feast of the first public manifestation of the mission of the adult Jesus, the lector might try to “get into Jesus’ head” as he grappled with this passage in his own heart. Don’t assume that Jesus knew the future in detail, and always had a clear career-path in mind. After all, he indisputably submitted to John’s baptism. Ask how Jesus “found himself” in this Scripture passage. You might proclaim it as if you were Jesus reading it aloud to himself and mulling it over as he prepares to go public.

Isaiah 55:1-11

Β Isaiah was sure that the exile and the slowness of the recovery from it were punishment for the people’s sins. Nor does he doubt God’s mercy. To bolster the people’s confidence, he prophesies in a set of inspirational images:

  • Good food and drink are coming for the hungry. As lector, make this banquet sound as delicious as the fare in those ubiquitous commercials for The Olive Garden restaurants.
  • Just as their ancestor David earned an international reputation, this people is destined to be influential among other nations, leading them, too, to worship God. (This is quite unprecedented, contradicting Israel’s normal clannish, isolationist view of the world. It foreshadows Jesus’ revolutionary openness to non-Jews and the universal mission imperative that Jesus will give.) In these sentences, the lector should slow down and emphasize the statement: “So shall you summon a nation you knew not, and nations that knew you not shall run to you.” (We Gentile Christians are that alien nation. It would be nice to be able to recognize ourselves in your voicing of this prophecy.)
  • You are not to rule out these possibilities just because you know you’ve been wicked. The prophet would have said “Let the scoundrel forsake his ways” with special emphasis because the scoundrel had no hope that he could or should; he felt doomed.
  • This new spiritual richness is really possible because God does not think like we do. Where we are vengeful and unforgiving, God is astonishingly merciful. (The prophets were always correcting the people’s tendency to fashion God in their own ungenerous image.)
  • This will all happen because God says so! The last two verses form a single, seventy-word sentence that must be proclaimed with care. Where you should pause, slow down, and punch out each word with special emphasis is the climactic phrase
SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Focal Themes

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ THEOLOGY OF WORK πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ FIRST READING πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Theology of Work Commentary

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FIRST READINGβ€”No commentary available for this reading.

SOURCE: Β© 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

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Life Recovery Bible

Jesus will bring justice for the wrongs we have suffered

Isaiah 42:1-4 This Servant song describes Jesus the Messiah and his ministry. No description could be more encouraging to us as we seek deliverance from injuries and fragile emotions. He is gentle; he will not crush us. He will encourage us and bring justice for the wrongs we have suffered.

Even as children, many of us have endured abuse or wrongdoings that we did nothing to deserve. But we need to let go of the hatred and bitterness we feel because Christ will judge the people who have hurt us. We need God’s help to put these events behind us so we can move on in the recovery process

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright Β© 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

The Servant of Yahweh

Introduction

Our First Reading from Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7 is the first of the four “Servant Songs” found in the book of the 8th century BC prophet Isaiah (see Is 42:1-7; 49:1-7; 50:4-11 and 52:13-53:12). The four “Servant Song” passages speak of the Servant in the singular as a Messiah sent by God to bring healing and justice to the people (first Servant Song) and who offers his life as a sacrifice for their sins (fourth Servant Song).

The Holy Spirit inspired New Testament writers, Jesus Himself, and Christian tradition identify the fulfillment of the “Servant Songs” in the “the Chosen One” (Is 42:1), Jesus Christ, the “Servant of God” (see Mt 3:16-17; 8:17; 11:2-5; Lk 2:32; 4:16-21; Jn 1:32-34; 1 Pt 2:24-25; etc.).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Major Points to Consider
by Michal E. Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

THE PROMISED DAVIDIC KING-MESSIAH

The Old Covenant people of God believed the “Servant Songs” spoke of the promised Davidic King-Messiah. Modern Jews see the “servant” as Israel, but the Holy Spirit inspired New Testament writers, Jesus Himself, and Christian tradition identify the fulfillment of these prophecies in the “the Chosen One” (Is 42:1) who is the “Servant of God,” Jesus Christ (see Mt 3:16-17; 8:17; 11:2-5; Lk 2:32; 4:16-21; Jn 1:32-34; 1 Pt 2:24-25; etc.).

The four “Servant Song” passages speak of the Servant in the singular as a Messiah sent by God to bring healing and justice to the people (first Servant Song) and who offers his life as a sacrifice for their sins (fourth Servant Song). There are other prophecies in the “songs” that are not fulfilled in the corporate covenant people of Israel but perfectly fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth (see the chart Isaiah’s Messianic Prophecies).


MISSION AND DIVINE DESTINY

Isaiah presents God’s Servant as a prophet with a mission and a divine destiny (verse 6) who is anointed by God’s Holy Spirit (verse 1) to teach the world (verses 1 and 3). He is to teach gently but firmly, without crushing the fragile spirit of those who are weak (verses 2-3). He is to teach despite opposition to His mission. In His mission, He will transcend the mission of other prophets as God’s supreme prophet since He is Himself both the “light” (verse 6, also see Lk 1:78-79; Jn 1:5, 7-9; 8:12; 9:5) and the bearer of a divine covenant (verse 6, also see Lk 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25) that will bring healing, liberation, and salvation to the people (verse 7, also see Lk 2:32; 4:16-21; 7:22; Acts 4:12; 1 Thes 5:9; etc.).


CHURCH FATHERS

The early Church Father, St. Justin Martyr (died c. 155 AD), wrote concerning Isaiah 42:6-7:

“Everything that is said here, my friends, refers to Christ and to the peoples who have been enlightened by his presence” (Dialogus cum Tryphone, 122.2).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Responsorial Psalm

Baptism of the Lord (B)

commentary
A pilot of a Boeing 767 captured a stunning photograph of a thunderstorm billowing over the Pacific Ocean in 2016. First Officer Santiago Borja snapped the photo from the cockpit as the plane was passing near Panama at 37,000 feet en route to South America. "I like this photo so much because you can feel the amazing size of the storm and its power," said Borja. "But at the same time it's wonderful how peacefully you can fly around it in still air without touching it." SOURC: KOMONEWS

"The voice of the LORD is over the waters,the LORD, over vast waters. The voice of the LORD is mighty; the voice of the LORD is majestic. " β€” Psalm 29:3

You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation

Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10

Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6 – With God as our Savior, we need not be afraid.

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

The Lord will bless his people with peace

Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 – This psalm celebrates the world of justice and peace that God’s servants are commissioned and empowered to establish in the world. The opening stanza, like a gathering song, is a summons to worship, a call to sing of God’s glory. It ends with the instruction that we should put on our Sunday best so that our dress can match our praise.

The second stanza offers a meditation on peace as God’s gift in situations of chaos symbolized by the waters. It envisions God’s voice as both strong and wondrously attractive. The refrain reminds us again that peace is God’s basic offer to us.

The final stanza recapitulates two key elements of the message. First, God’s voice, stronger than any other, calls forth a response of praise. Secondly, God is beyond all the chaos; God’s rule is the only one that is true. All of the verses come together as a song of thanks for the peace that God’s promises to provide.

Β©2017 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. 2017 Reflections, 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ INTRODUCTION πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ PSALM πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Focal Themes

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ THEOLOGY OF WORK πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ PSALM πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 LIFE RECOVERY COMMENTARY 🟩🟩 PSALM 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Life Recovery Bible

God’s great power

Psalm 29:1-9 β€” In this psalm we are reminded of God’s great power over the natural world. Yet even though his majesty is greater than any words can describe, he knows and loves each one of us.

Knowing how powerless we are over the problems we face should make us realize that we need to turn our life over to him, the one who is all-powerful. He is the only one able and willing to help us

SOURCE: Content taken from Life Application Study Bible, Third Edition. Copyright Β© 2019. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

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Bible Study

Yahweh is acclaimed king of the earth

Psalm 29 – Our Psalm Reading from Psalm 29 is a hymn of praise that invites the members of the heavenly assembly (angels who are collectively “sons of God”) to acknowledge God’s supreme sovereignty over the heavens and the earth. They are invited to acknowledge God’s supremacy by crying out “Glory” to God the eternal King in the heavenly Temple. Their hymn is similar to the song they will sing at the birth of the Son of God when the universal blessing God promised Abraham and the universal salvation God promised through the prophet Isaiah begins to be manifested in the life and redeeming mission of Jesus Christ.

Psalm 29 repeats God’s divine covenant Name, YHWH [Yahweh], eighteen times. This hymn of praise invites the members of the heavenly assembly (angels who are collectively “sons of God”) to acknowledge God’s supreme sovereignty over the heavens and the earth. They are invited to acknowledge God’s supremacy by crying out “Glory” in the heavenly Temple to God the eternal King (verses 1b-2a and 9b-10).

3 The voice of the LORD is over the waters, the LORD, over vast waters. 4 The voice of the LORD is mighty; the voice of the LORD is majestic.

The phrase “the voice of Yahweh” is repeated seven times in verses 3-9 and is probably meant to suggest the sound of thunder (verse 9a) just as the Israelites heard God’s voice as thunder in the Theophany at Mt. Sinai (Ex 19:16, 19). The “voice” or Presence “of Yahweh” “over vast waters” is also probably a reminder of the presence of God’s Spirit over the waters of Creation in Genesis 1:1 as He began the Creation event.

9 The God of glory thunders, and in his temple all say, “Glory!” 10 The LORD is enthroned above the flood; the LORD is enthroned as king forever.

The angels, who witnessed God’s supreme power (3-9a), acknowledge the enthronement of the King of the universe forever with their cry of praise, “Glory!” (verses 9b-10). Their praise to God in the heavenly Temple has the same beginning as the hymn of praise the angels sang at the birth of the Christ-child in Luke 2:14 that began with the word “Glory.” We repeat their cry of praise and joy in our Lord God in singing the “Gloria” in the celebration of the Mass.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Second Reading

Baptism of the Lord (B)

commentary
Detail at Baptismal font from 1592 by Mante Pelkinck in Holy Cross Church Hildesheim (Germany)

Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered in the house of Cornelius, saying..."beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power." β€” Acts 10:34,36-38a

Key Points

He went about doing good works.

Acts 10:34-38 or 1 Jn 5:1-9

  • In Acts, Peter makes the point that the revelation of God’s love began at the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River.
  • In Jesus, God’s reign has been established on earth.
  • God wants the entire world to hear the good news of salvation.

OPTION: Colossians 3:12-21

SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ SECOND READING πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Reflections

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. CLEMENT 🟨🟨 SECOND READING 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Clement Thibodeau

God has anointed Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah and Lord

SECOND READING β€” The Book of Acts often reconstructs certain sermons given by the apostles, particularly Peter and Paul. Here, we are given a sermon uttered by Peter at the baptism of Cornelius, the Gentile, and his family. The early Christian community struggled mightily to accept the practice that Gentiles would be welcomed at the Table of the Eucharist. Would not the Jewish Christians be rendered unclean by such table fellowship with Gentiles? Peter declares that nothing is unclean if God makes it clean. Notice the allusion to the washing of baptism. Even before Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles, Peter was already practicing the inclusion of Gentiles in Christian baptism and communal fellowship. We need to pay attention to the sermons given by Peter and Paul in the Acts of the Apostles. These are always summaries of what theChurch believes and teaches.

Β© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. TOBIN 🟨🟨 SECOND READING 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Eamon Tobin

Trinitarian faith

SECOND READING β€” This reading is a testimony to Trinitarian faith. It describes God the Father as the One who begets (the Son); it identifies Jesus as the Son of God; and it credits the Spirit as the One who testifies to the triumph of Jesus’ death and Resurrection. It also shows the way believers participate in this Trinitarian reality.

Faith in Jesus makes us children of God. The commandments to be observedare not burdensome. The reference to β€˜blood and water’ points to Jesus’ baptism and sacrifice on the Cross.

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. McGLONE 🟨🟨 SECOND READING 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Mary McGlone

Peter’s sermon on the anointing of Jesus

SECOND READING β€” This short selection from Acts fits the feast of the day because it mentions Jesus’ baptism. In context, it is part of the homily Peter preached when he discovered that Cornelius and his pagan household were capable of being Christians. Like the evangelists, Peter circumvents the detail that Jesus asked John for baptism. Instead, he explains that God’s unique saving activity in their days began after John’s ministry and that God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and power.

Theologically, this selection underlines two interrelated points: God’s impartiality and the relation between the Holy Spirit and baptism. The first, the fact that God does not favor people of any race, gender or creed, is the main point of the passage. Peter’s homily is like a personal theological reflection through which he is coming to grips with the universality of the message of Jesus.

The struggle to accept Gentiles equally with Jews in the Christian movement was one of the greatest theological and sociological challenges faced by the early church. It was surpassed only by the struggle to understand a suffering, crucified and risen Messiah. The church still struggles with those two pillars of faith as we are tempted repeatedly by the desire for power and our proclivity to discriminate on the basis of gender, race or status.

Jesus’ baptism was not the subject of Peter’s sermon; he mentioned it simply as a part of a different topic. Because of that, his casual connection of baptism and God’s anointing of Jesus with the Spirit and power indicates how clearly the early church understood Jesus’ baptism as the starting point of his ministry and sense of vocation.

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Tips for Readers

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 SECOND READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

TEXT: 1 John 5,1-9

  • I begin reading from the first letter of John. Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God.
  • There are some verbs that on first hearing sound disconnected: believe, love, obey. This literal translation does not help to clarify but at least it does not obscure either. I will need fifteen or so readings to make it run smoothly.
  • I have a sense that all these phrases, which will sound disjoint in the voice of a poorly prepared reader, recapitulate in many ways our life together in community. First there is community of the Father and the one begotten by him, then of God and the children of God. It is a message about the community of faith, where love of God reveals love of neighbor. They are for all intents and purposes the same thing! We know that we love the children of God when we love God.
  • It sounds almost like a litany. The believers are begotten by God and they conquer the world. We love God and God’s children, so we keep God’s commandments, especially the greatest commandment of love. Above all, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
  • In a time of doubt we know. I want to make John’s short phrase my own today.
  • When I read the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God, I am looking ahead to today’s Gospel passageI pray as I read that my church will have its own faith reinforced.
  • Then come the final words: The one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ. If I speak them decisively my listeners will recall the water and blood that issued from his side at his death. I notice that the apostle insists on both: not by water alone but by water and blood. Let me just insist on this distinction, and let the homilist interpret it further for the assembly.

Key elements

  • Climax: The victory that conquers the world is our faith.
  • Message for our assembly: Be encouraged by the warm words of the apostle. When he says: not burdensome, he means β€˜not overpowering’ or β€˜not impossible.’ And he repeats the phrase conquers the world three times to show that our life in Christ is a life of possibilities. Why am I reminded of those hard sayings of Jesus?
  • I will challenge myself: To take my time as I make the necessary connections between commandments, love, faith, overcoming, and the Spirit who testifies.
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org
Greg Warnusz

Introducing the reading at Mass

Acts 10:34-38

In separate visions, God has called Peter the Jewish Christian apostle and Cornelius the pagan centurion to meet each other. It’s an unlikely pairing and it breaks old precedents.

1 John 5:1-9

For a community divided by false teaching, the writer gives a clear teaching that Jesus is indeed the Son of God. He asserts that holding the correct faith makes it possible for believers to love each other properly.

Oral interpretation

Theological background

Acts 10:34-38

Remember the setting here. Your proclamation will be better if you walk a mile in Peter’s sandals first by reading all of Acts, Chapter 10. You’ll see what a big change Peter had to go through before he could speak to this group. Both Peter the Jewish Christian, with his typical contempt for Gentiles, and Cornelius, a Gentile distantly respectful of Jews, needed simultaneous supernatural visions to prepare them for this meeting. So for Peter the big revelation is the same as one of the themes of the Isaiah passage, above, “God shows no partiality, and accepts whoever is God-fearing and acts uprightly.”

Proclaiming it

Acts 10:34-38

For Peter, it wasn’t meditation on Isaiah 42 that proved this. It was his relationship with Jesus, and his meditation on Jesus’ life, from his baptism through his resurrection. So proclaim this like Peter delivered it originally, with the conviction of one who has had the “Aha!” experience, who finally sees it all clearly.

1 John 5:1-9

Every time I’ve written about how to proclaim a passage from 1 John, I’ve emphasized reading it s-l-o-w-l-y. That holds today. It would also help to break the reading with pauses well placed after discrete thoughts, almost sentence by sentence. Read it to yourself often, so you know where the logical breaks are. Don’t be surprised to find this a daunting passage to proclaim; The writer was a poetic mystic, and his every paragraph is packed with meanings that you could fruitfully plumb for years.

The historical situation

1 John 5:1-9

At the risk of wearying regular readers, Lector’s Notes borrows again from the Introduction to 1 John in The New American Bible:

To the best of our knowledge, the original recipients of the first letter of John were specific Christian communities,

  1. some of whose members were advocating false doctrines (2:18f-26; 3:7).
  2. These errors are here recognized and rejected (4:4);
  3. although their advocates have left the community (2:19),
  4. the threat posed by them remains (3:11).
  5. They have refused to acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ (2:22),
  6. the Son of God (2:23)
  7. who came into the world as true man (4:2).
  8. They are difficult people to deal with,
  9. claiming special knowledge of God
  10. but disregarding the divine commandments (2:4),
  11. particularly the commandment of love of neighbor (4:8),
  12. and refusing to accept faith in Christ as the source of sanctification (1:6; 2:6-9).
  13. Thus they are denying the redemptive value of Jesus’ death (5:6).

The inspired writer, of course, wants to ease the pains caused by these rifts, and assure his readers that the saving truth is open to them and clear.

Examining the verses of the reading in this light, we notice:
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.
Believing the correct teaching about Jesus (point 5, above) lets you become God’s child. Thus you’re prepared to love God’s other children (point 11).
For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
The heretics claimed special knowledge of the things of God (item 9, above). The writer refutes them by stating that the commands of God are clear to all and quite possible to obey.
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? In other words, holding the correct belief about point 6 enables one to prevail in the world.
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.
In the ancient Middle East, where status and honor were valued above all else, deceit was common, and so was skepticism. So people commonly invoked every possible witness to confirms the truth of their assertions. Here the author backs up his teaching with testimony of three witnesses.
SOURCE: Greg Warnusz at LectorPrep.org

Focal Themes

Theology of Work Commentary

___

SECOND READINGβ€” No commentary available for this reading.

SOURCE: Β© 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 LIFE RECOVERY COMMENTARY 🟩🟩 SECOND READING 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Life Recovery Bible

Cornelius and his family

Acts 10 β€” The scene in Cornelius’s home is a model of family recovery. As Cornelius and his family came to believe in the redemptive work of Jesus, they also entered a phase of spiritual recovery augmented by the power of the Holy Spirit. This wasn’t the end of their recovery process by any means. But they were well on their way because they had established healthy relationships with each other and with God.

When the family of Cornelius received the gift of the Holy Spirit, a new era of history was born. For the first time God showed that all people were acceptable to God through Jesus Christβ€”even β€œunclean” Gentiles. Because of his cultural prejudices, Peter had a hard time accepting this truth, but when Cornelius and his family received the Holy Spirit, Peter could no longer deny it. God desires to make the Holy Spirit’s power a part of all our life. If we repent of our sins and accept God’s forgiveness on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ, we can experience God’s power in our life. With God’s help, no problem or dependency is too great to overcome.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright Β© 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Jesus’ gift of universal salvation to believers

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Second Reading

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.
Introduction

St. Peter testified to God’s gift of universal salvation through the Sacrament of Christian baptism in our Second Reading from the Book of Acts. Peter speaks of God’s gift of salvation to Jews and Gentiles as he prepares to baptize the men, women, and children gathered in the house of the Roman centurion Cornelius who came to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord.

[This reading] is the fulfillment of the prophecy of St. Simeon when he held the Christ-child in his arms at Jesus’ Temple dedication and prophesied a universal blessing and the promise of the gift of salvation for both Gentiles and Jews (Lk 2:30-32).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Major Points to Consider
by Michal E. Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

BASIC OUTLINE OF PETER’S MESSAGE

St. Peter’s fifth kerygmatic address (Greek, kerygma = proclamation, from keryks = herald) to the assembly of “God-fearing” Gentiles in the home of the Roman centurion Cornelius (verses 34-43) has the same basic outline as St. Peter’s other proclamations of Jesus as Lord and Savior. It’s basic message:

  1. Jesus was sent by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit to be Lord and Messiah.
  2. He did what was good and healed those in need of physical and spiritual healing.
  3. He was put to death by men but arose from the dead on the third day.
  4. He appeared to His disciples and commissioned them to preach in His name.
  5. Whoever believes in Him and is baptized in His name will receive forgiveness of sins.

GOD SHOWS NO PARTIALITY

What is unique about this message is that Peter addresses it to Gentiles, and he acknowledges that God shows no partiality in that every nation who fears Him and acts righteously is acceptable to Him (verses 34-35). Extending of the Gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ to the Gentiles fulfills the prophecies of the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah, as St. Peter states to the group of Romans he is about to baptize:

To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name (Acts 10:43; underlining added).


THE MISSION TODAY

The Catholic (universal) Church continues to fulfill this mission today and will continue to fulfill it in the future until Christ returns to claim all the faithful of His Church.

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Gospel Reading

Baptism of the Lord (B)

commentary
Jesus is baptized by John the Baptist.

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, β€œYou are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” β€” Mark 1:10-11

Key Points

On you my favor rests.

Mk 1:7-11

  • In all the Gospels Jesus is publicly proclaimed God’s Son at his Baptism.
  • The details of Jesus’ Baptism in today’s Gospel echo the images from the four servant songs.
  • At the moment of his Baptism, Jesus begins his lifework of proclaiming the kingdom of God.
SOURCE: Our Sunday Visitor

πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ OUR SUNDAY VISITOR INTRO πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄ GOSPEL πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄πŸ”΄

Reflections

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. CLEMENT 🟨🟨 GOSPEL 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Clement Thibodeau

Jesus is the beloved Son of the Father

GOSPEL β€” In this first chapter, Mark continues to develop the theme of his Gospel already announced in the title: Jesus is the Christ, Son of God. From the title (1:1) to the end (15:39),that is the unique proclamation: β€œJesus, the Christ, Son of God,” in the title; β€œTruly, this man was the Son of God,” uttered by the Roman centurion after Jesus’ death. This is the literary device called an inclusio.These two proclamations frame everything in between. The whole book is about one thing: Jesus Christ, Son of God. When a whole document isframed by such words, they must surely be the most important, setting the theme, giving the whole content in summary form.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, Son of God is used to designate angels (in the Book of Job), the nation of Israel itself (in Exodus and Hosea), and individuals, especially the king (in Isaiah, Wisdom, Sirach, and 2 Samuel [2 Samuel 7:14]). It took a long time, even in Christian times, for the Church to settle on a definitive and unique interpretation of this title: that Jesus Christ embodies the very person of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, the Word made flesh. By itself, outside the whole context of the remainder of the New Testament, the expression β€œSon of God”does not prove that Jesus is God. It takes the rest of Christian revelation, and the interpretation given by the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to come to that conclusion. The point I make is that the Church does believe that Jesus Christ is Son of God in the sense of consubstantial with the Father and with the Holy Spirit,but the Church does not prove this point of doctrine from these expressions alone.

Mark reveals the true identity of Jesus to the Church. Jesus is Messiah / King. Jesus is the Spirit-filled servant of the Lord. The β€œepiphany,” which is made manifest at the baptism of Jesus appears to be addressed only to himself, in the Gospel of Mark. The final β€œepiphany” can take place only after Jesus will have suffered and died. That will be a constant fact in Mark’s Gospel: only in suffering and in dying will Jesus be revealedas the son of God. Whenever there is an attempt to make Jesus a great leader, Mark always interjects that he has to die!

Β© 2017 Portland Diocese / Father Clement D. Thibodeau. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 FR. TOBIN 🟨🟨 GOSPEL 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Fr. Eamon Tobin

Divine affirmation of Jesus

GOSPEL β€” The Gospel has two parts. In the first part, John unequivocally states that Jesus is much more powerful than he is that he is not even worthy to perform such menial task as loosening the strap of Jesus’ sandal. In saying this, John is not demeaning himself but rather glorifying Jesus.

In the second part of the Reading, John contrasts their respective baptisms. His is with water whilst Jesus’ will be with the Holy Spirit. No explanation is given as to why Jesus would submit to a sinner’s baptism. Theologians usuallyinterpret it as a symbol of Jesus’ solidaritywith sinful humanity.

The coming of the Spirit accompanied by the words: β€œYou are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased” is a beautiful act of divine affirmation on Jesus. The Spirit also is the one who will empower the human Jesus to do the works of God: preach with authority, heal the sick, cast out demons, and raise the dead.

Β©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. Used with permission.

🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨 SR. McGLONE 🟨🟨 GOSPEL 🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨🟨

Sr. Mary McGlone

_____

GOSPEL β€” No commentary from Sr. Mary available for this week.

Β©2018 National Catholic Reporter. All Rights Reserved. Sr. Mary McGlone is a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Her 2020 Reflections can be read at National Catholic Reporter website.

Tips for Readers

🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫 LECTOR’S NOTES 🟫🟫 SECOND READING 🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫🟫

Paul J. Schlachter

Points to consider

  • In each of the Gospels, the climax is the declaration that Jesus is my Son. Whenever I say it, with its accompanying images of the heavens torn open and the Spirit descending, I raise the account to the level of God’s presence.
  • The message for our assembly: to identify with Jesus through our own baptism.
  • I will challenge myself: to represent the wondrous appearance of God to Jesus, as I in my life have been blessed with a sense of God’s presence.
  • Here is the oldest account we have of John’s baptism of Jesus.
  • Following Matthew and John, we are accustomed to thinking of it as a fully public event, where the sense of God’s presence is felt by John and perhaps the others present. But Mark’s account is mostly concerned with Jesus himself: He saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending upon him.
  • We begin the reading with an expectation of someone great who is coming, someone more powerful than John. It takes God to show us who that is. You are my beloved Son. God speaks directly to Jesus, which is also the account of Luke.

Key elements

  • Word to Eucharist: Jesus certainly saw the Spirit; do we? Does the Spirit show us more than a simple procession?
SOURCE: Paul J. Schlachter at LectorWorks.org

Focal Themes

πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ THEOLOGY OF WORK πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯ GOSPEL πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯πŸŸ₯

Theology of Work Commentary

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ

GOSPELβ€” The accounts of John’s preaching and of Jesus’ baptism and temptation say nothing directly about work. Nevertheless, as the narrative gateway to the Gospel, they provide the basic thematic context for all that follows and cannot be bypassed as we move to passages more obviously applicable to our concerns. An interesting point is that Mark’s title (Mark 1:1) describes the book as β€œthe beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ.” From a narrative point of view, drawing attention to the beginning is striking, because the Gospel seems to lack an ending. The earliest manuscripts suggest that the Gospel ends suddenly with Mark 16:8, β€œSo they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.” The text ends so abruptly that scribes added the material now found in Mark 16:9-20, which is composed from passages found elsewhere in the New Testament. But perhaps Mark intended his Gospel to have no ending. It is only β€œthe beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ,” and we who read it are participants in the continuing Gospel. If this is so, then our lives are a direct continuation of the events in Mark, and we have every reason to expect concrete applications to our work.

We will see in greater detail that Mark always portrays human followers of Jesus as beginners who fall far short of perfection. This is true even of the twelve apostles. Mark, more than any of the other Gospels, presents the apostles as unperceptive, ignorant, and repeatedly failing Jesus. This is highly encouraging, for many Christians who try to follow Christ in their work feel inadequate in doing so. Take heart, Mark exhorts, for in this we are like the apostles themselves!

John the Baptist (Mark 1:2-11) is presented as the messenger of Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. He announces the coming of β€œthe Lord.” Combined with the designation of Jesus as β€œChrist, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1), this language makes clear to the reader that Mark’s central theme is β€œthe kingdom of God,” even though he waits until Mark 1:15 to use that phrase and to connect it to the gospel (β€œgood news”). β€œThe kingdom of God” is not a geographical concept in Mark. It is the reign of the Lord observed as people and peoples come under God’s rule, through the transforming work of the Spirit. That work is highlighted by Mark’s brief description of the baptism and temptation of Jesus (Mark 1:9-13), which by its brevity emphasizes the descent of the Spirit onto Jesus and his role in driving him into (and presumably through) the temptation by Satan.

SOURCE: Β© 2014 Theology of Work Project, Inc.; Used with permission. (Licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.)

🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩 LIFE RECOVERY COMMENTARY 🟩🟩 GOSPEL 🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩🟩

Life Recovery Bible

Belief in a greater Power

Mark 1:1-13 β€” Only belief in a Power greater than ourself can restore us to sanity. That’s how John the Baptist saw Jesusβ€”as one far greater than he was. Jesus demonstrated his great power through victory over Satan and his temptations.

This should encourage us as we face our own temptations. With his help, we can stand up to anything. Under our own power, we are helpless against the power of our dependency. We can tap into God’s power by making a conscious decision to turn our back on sin (1:4) and by entrusting our life to God’s care.

SOURCE: Content taken from The Life Recovery Bible notes by Stephen Arterburn & David Stoop. Copyright Β© 1998, 2017. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

Bible Study

Baptism of God’s beloved Son

Exegesis Outline

Sunday’s Gospel

Richard Niell Donavan, a Disciples of Christ clergyman, published SermonWriter from 1997 until his death in 2020. His wife Dale has graciously kept his website online. A subscription is no longer required.
Introduction

In today’s Gospel reading, we remember Jesus’ Baptism by St. John the Baptist in the waters of the Jordan River. The Gospels relate Jesus’ baptism as another epiphany (manifestation) of Jesus as the promised Messiah, the “Chosen One” and “Servant” Son of God promised by the prophets (First Reading). This event presents for the first time in Scripture the revelation of the Most Holy Trinity: the Holy Spirit descending from heaven in the form of a dove, God the Father’s voice from heaven, and Jesus identified by the divine voice as God the Son (Mt 3:16-17; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:21-22).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.
Major Points to Consider
by Michal E. Hunt (Agape Bible Study)

BAPTISM

Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Baptism to renew our souls by imparting to the baptized a new life for a covenant relationship as re-born sons and daughters of the Almighty (Mt 28:19-20; Jn 3:3-5). For those who are baptized by water and the Spirit, the waters of Christian baptism become the “the springs of salvation” that the prophet Isaiah promised (Is 12:3). It is the water that will “cleanse you of all your filth and give you a new heart and a new spirit” that Ezekiel foretold (Ez 36:24-27).

The waters of Christian baptism are God’s invitation to all humanity to receive the promises made through David’s heir, Christ Jesus: “Come to me heedfully, listen, that you may have life. I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David” (Is 55:5).

Jesus commands us to baptize all who profess faith in Him as necessary for their eternal salvation, saying, Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.”(Mk 16:16). Faith is the first step, but faith must be followed by action that demonstrates our commitment to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior (Jam 2:24).


JOHN THE BAPTIST

In verses 7-8, the one described in Mark 1:2-3 and named as John the Baptist in verse 4 finally speaks. He announces the coming of the One before whom he is unworthy and who “will baptize with the power of the Holy Spirit.” John the Baptist is preparing the way for the advent of the Messiah by cleansing the people in preparation for the ministry of Jesus the Messiah, Son of God. Jesus is the greater and John the lesser. Notice that Mark presents the Baptist according to his mission: he points the way to God the Son, and then he fades away to give prominence to Jesus.

7b I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.

To untie a master’s sandals was considered a demeaning task that was not required by a Jewish slave/servant (Mek. 21:1; b Ketub. 96a). “To be unworthy” of such a task would be to lower oneself below the status of a slave.

8 I have baptized you with water, he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

“He will baptize with the Holy Spirit” is in the future tense. The prophet Ezekiel promised purification that is baptism by the Holy Spirit in the name of God (Ez 36:25-27). So while the promise is not new, the announcement of the one who will provide the gift is new.

9 It happened in those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 10 On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and [immediately = euthus] the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. 11 And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”

Scripture presents St. John the Baptist’s mission as God’s prelude to the saving mission of God the Son as foretold by the prophets. St. Mark does not provide some of the details of Jesus’ baptism found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. St. John’s Gospel does not describe this event since he does not repeat what is adequately covered in the Synoptic Gospels. We only read about Jesus’ baptism after the fact.


IMPORTANT QUESTION TO ASK

If Jesus is God and therefore without sin, why did He submit to John’s baptism of repentance?

For Jesus it was not a baptism of repentance but an anointing by the Holy Spirit for the three holy offices He fulfilled as divine prophet, priest, and Davidic king in preparation for His ministry. He was also demonstrating the anointing through baptism by water and the Spirit to which everyone who believes in Him must summit to be reborn into the family of God and thereby receive the gift of eternal salvation.


THREE DIVINE SIGNS

As Jesus comes up from the water of John’s baptism, there are three divine signs from heaven (verses 10-11, see CCC 536, 1026):

  1. Heaven, closed since the fall of Adam, opened (CCC 536)
  2. The Holy Spirit descended like a dove.
  3. A voice from Heaven announced: “You are my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

THE SPIRIT

The Hebrew word for “spirit” is ruah, translated as “spirit,” “wind,” or “breath.” Two events in the Old Testament recall the descent of the “spirit” or “divine wind” of God hovering over water and the image of a dove over water. The descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove over Jesus and the waters of the Jordan River recall:

  1. The Spirit/divine wind of God hovering over the waters in the first Creation event.
  2. The dove Noah released to fly over the receding waters at the end of the great Flood at the new beginning for mankind on earth.

The event of Jesus’ baptism is both a new beginning and a new creation (Gen 1:2, 8:6-12).


THE OPENING OF THE GATES OF HEAVEN

It is the intention of St. Mark to tell the story of how the Son pleased the Father, beginning with God the Father’s announces from Heaven. The opening of the gates of Heaven at Jesus’ baptism that the Fall of Adam had closed marks the beginning of the new era (CCC 536, 1026). God resides above in the heavenly Sanctuary, and human history takes place below. However, the opening up of the access to Heaven now promises a new intimacy with God not enjoyed by man since before the Fall of Adam. God has torn the heavens open at Jesus’ baptism, never to shut them again. Through this gracious opening in the void between Heaven and earth, God has now poured forth His Spirit onto the earthly realm of mankind (Gen 7:11; Is 24:18; 64:1; Ez 1:1; Rev 4:1; 11:19). The gift of the Spirit in the new creation fulfills the promise God made through the prophet Isaiah (Is 42:1-5; 11:1-3; 61:1; 63:10-14). It is as the One gifted with the Spirit (verse 10) that Jesus will provide to His faithful the baptism by the Spirit and rebirth in His sacrificial death.

The Gospel of Mark, like the other Synoptic Gospels, presents the first revelation of the Most Holy Trinity to mankind at Jesus’ baptism:

  1. God the Holy Spirit descends from heaven.
  2. He rests upon Jesus who is God the Son.
  3. The divine voice of God the Father from heaven announces His pleasure in God the Son.

11 And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.”

The voice of God the Father from Heaven calling Jesus “my beloved Son” recalls another father and an angel who referred to the son in the same way. It is the only other time in the Old Testament with the same wording for a son. In Abraham’s test of a covenant ordeal in Genesis 22, he was asked by God to offer his “beloved son” in sacrifice (Gen 22:1, 12). It is a foreshadowing of God the Father offering His “beloved Son” in sacrifice for the salvation of mankind (Heb 11:17-19). In His submission to St. John’s ritual purification for the forgiveness of sins, the sinless Jesus, who is fully man and fully God, has shown His obedience to the will of God the Father. Jesus begins His earthly ministry to restore and redeem the faithful remnant of the old Israel to be the emissaries of His new Israel. Through the Holy Spirit, God will empower His emissaries to call all the nations of the earth into a relationship with God that promises not the temporal blessings of the Old Sinai Covenant but the eternal blessings of a New and Universal Covenant in Christ Jesus.


ANOTHER IMPORTANT QUESTION TO ASK

“Is Baptism necessary for salvation?” The answer is “Yes!”

Jesus affirmed that baptism is necessary for salvation in His discussion with the Pharisee Nicodemus in the Gospel of John (Jn 3:1-7; also see Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15-16 and CCC 436, 783, 1257). After His resurrection, Jesus told His disciples: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned.” God will save whomever He will save, but the required response to faith in Jesus Christ is the Sacrament of Baptism. It is the only means Jesus has given His Church to lead souls to salvation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms this truth:

“The Lord himself affirms that Baptism is necessary for salvation. He also commands his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all nations and to baptize them. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal beatitude; this is why she takes care not to neglect the mission she has received from the Lord to see that all who can be baptized are ‘reborn of water and the Spirit.’ God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but he himself is not bound by his sacraments” (CCC 1257).

Agape Bible Study by Michal E. Hunt; used with permission.

Catena Aurea

Baptism of the Lord (B)

The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.

Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaeaβ€”that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the β€œCappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the β€œCappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a β€œDoctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (β€œthe Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a β€œDoctor of the Church”
  • Basil β€œthe Great” – one of the β€œCappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of ConstanΒ­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – β€œthe Venerable Bede”; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a β€œDoctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as β€œthat than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

Mk 1:7-11

VERSES 4-8

4. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.

5. And there went out unto him all the land of Judæa, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins.

6. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey;

7. And preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.

8. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.

PSEUDO-JEROME. According to the above-mentioned prophecy of Isaiah, the way of the Lord is prepared by John, through faith, baptism, and penitence; the paths are made straight by the rough marks of the hair-cloth garment, the girdle of skin, the feeding on locusts and wild honey, and the most lowly voice; whence it is said, John was in the wilderness. For John and Jesus seek what is lost in the wilderness; where the devil conquered, there he is conquered; where man fell, there he rises up. But the name John means the grace of God, and the narrative begins with grace. For it goes on to say, baptizing. For by baptism grace is given, seeing that by baptism sins are freely remitted. But what is brought to perfection by the bridegroom, is introduced by the friend of the bridegroom. Thus catechumens, (which word means persons instructed,) begin by the ministry of the priest, receive the chrismb from the bishop. And to shew this, it is subjoined, And preaching the baptism of repentance, &c.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 2) It is evident that John not only preached, but also gave to some the baptism of repentance; but he could not give baptism for the remission of sinsc. For remission of sins is only given to us by the baptism of Christ. It is therefore only said, Preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; for he preached a baptism which could remit sins, since he could not give it. Wherefore as he was the forerunner of the Incarnate Word of the Father, by the word of his preaching, so by his baptism, which could not remit sins, he preceded that baptism, of penitence, by which sins are remitted.

THEOPHYLACT. The baptism of John had not remission of sins, but only brought men to penitence. He preached therefore the baptism of repentance, that is, he preached that to which the baptism of penitence led, namely, remission of sins, that they who in penitence received Christ, might receive Him to the remission of their sins.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Now by John as by the bride-groom’s friend, the bride is brought to Christ, as by a servant Rebecca was brought to Isaac; wherefore there follows, And there went out to him all, (Gen. 24:61) &c. For confession and beauty are in his presence, (Ps. 95:6. Vulg.) that is, the presence of the bridegroom. And the bride leaping down from her camel signifies the Church, who humbles herself on seeing her husband Isaac, that is, Christ. But the interpretation of Jordan, where sins are washed away, is β€˜an alien descent.’ For we heretofore aliens to God by pride, are by the sign (symbolum) of Baptism made lowly, and thus exalted on highd.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) An example of confessing their sins and of promising to lead a new life, is held out to those who desire to be baptized, by those words which follow, confessing their sins.

CHRYSOSTOM. Because indeed John preached repentance, he wore the marks of repentance in his garment and in his food, wherefore there follows, And John was clothed in camel’s hair.

BEDE. It says, clothed in a garment of hair, not in woollen clothes; the former is the mark of an austere garb, the latter of effeminate luxury. But the girdle of skins, with which he was girt, like Elias, is a mark of mortification. And this meat, locusts and wild honey, is suited to a dweller in the wilderness, so that his object in eating was not the deliciousness of meats, but the satisfying of the necessity of human flesh.

PSEUDO-JEROME. The dress of John, his food, and employment, signifies the austere life of preachers, and that future nations are to be joined to the grace of God, which is John, both in their minds and in externals. For by camel’s hair, is meant the rich among the nations; and by the girdle of skin, the poor, dead to the world; and by the wandering locusts, the wise men of this world; who, leaving the dry stalks to the Jews, draw off with their legs the mystic grain, and in the warmth of their faith leap up towards heaven; and the faithful, being inspired by the wild honey, are full-fed from the untilled wood.

THEOPHYLACT. Or else; The garment of camel’s hair was significative of grief, for John pointed out, that he who repented should mourn. For sackcloth signifies grief; but the girdle of skins shews the dead state of the Jewish people. The food also of John not only denotes abstinence, but also shews forth the intellectual food, which the people then were eating, without understanding any thing lofty, but continually raising themselves on high, and again sinking to the earth. For such is the nature of locusts, leaping on high and again falling. In the same way the people ate honey, which had come from bees, that is, from the prophets; it was not however domestic, but wild, for the Jews had the Scriptures, which are as honey, but did not rightly understand them.

GREGORY. (Moral. xxxi. 25) Or, by the kind itself of his food he pointed out the Lord, of whom he was the forerunner; for in that our Lord took to Himself the sweetness of the barren Gentiles, he ate wild honey. In that He in His own person partly converted the Jews, He received locusts for His food, which suddenly leaping up, at once fall to the ground. For the Jews leaped up when they promised to fulfil the precepts of the Lord; but they fell to the ground, when by their evil works they affirmed that they had not heard them. They made therefore a leap upwards in words, and fell down by their actions.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The dress and food of John may also express of what kind was his inward walk. For he used a dress more austere than was usual, because he did not encourage the life of sinners by flattery, but chid them by the vigour of his rough rebuke; he had a girdle of skin round his loins, for he was one, who crucified his flesh with the affections and lusts. (Gal. 5:24) He used to cat locusts and wild honey, because his preaching had some sweetness for the multitude, whilst the people debated whether he was the Christ himself or not; but this soon came to an end, when his hearers understood that he was not the Christ, but the forerunner and prophet of Christ. For in honey there is sweetness, in locusts swiftness of flight; whence there follows, And he preached, saying, there cometh one mightier than I after me.

GLOSS. (non occ.) He said this to do away with the opinion of the crowd, who thought that he was the Christ; but he announces that Christ is mightier than he, who was to remit sins, which he himself could not do.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Who again is mightier than the grace, by which sins are washed away, which John signifies? He who seven times and seventy times seven remits sin. Grace indeed comes first, but remits sins once only by baptism, but mercy reaches to the wretched from Adam up to Christ through seventy-seven generations, and up to one hundred and forty-four thousand. (Mat. 18:22)

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) But lest he should be thought to say this by way of comparing himself to Christ, he subjoins, Of whom I am not worthy, &c. It is not however the same thing to loose the shoe-latchet, which Mark here says, and to carry his shoes, which Matthew says. And indeed the Evangelists following the order of the narrative, and not able to err in any thing, say that John spoke each of these sayings in a different sense. But commentators on this passage have expounded each in a different way. For he means by the latchet, the tie of the shoe. (non occ.). He says this therefore to extol the excellence of the power of Christ, and the greatness of His divinity; as if he said, Not even in the station of his servant am I worthy to be reckoned. For it is a great thing to contemplate, as it were stooping down, those things which belong to the body of Christ, and to see from below the image of things above, and to untie each of those mysteries, about the Incarnation of Christ, which cannot be unravelled.

PSEUDO-JEROME. The shoe is in the extremity of the body; for in the end the Incarnate Saviour is coming for justice, whence it is said by the prophet, Over Edom will I cast out my shoe. (Ps. 60:9)

GREGORY. (Hom. in Evan. vii.) Shoes also are made from the skins of dead animals. The Lord, therefore, coming incarnate, appeared us it were with shoes on His feet, for He assumed in His divinity the dead skins of our corruption. Or else; it was a custom among the ancients, that if a man refused to take as his wife the woman whom he ought to take, he who offered himself as her husband by right of kindred took off that man’s shoe. Rightly then does he proclaim himself unworthy to loose his shoe-latchet, as if he said openly, I cannot make bare the feet of the Redeemer, for I usurp not the name of the Bridegroom, a thing which is above my deserts.

THEOPHYLACT. Some persons also understand it thus; all who came to John, and were baptized, through penitence were loosed from the bands of their sins by believing in Christ. John then in this way loosed the shoe-latchet of all the others, that is, the bands of sin. But Christ’s shoe-latchet he was not able to unloose, because he found no sin in Him.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Thus then John proclaims the Lord not yet as God, or the Son of God, but only as a man mightier than himself. For his ignorant hearers were not yet capable of receiving the hidden things of so great a Sacrament, that the eternal Son of God, having taken upon Him the nature of man, had been lately born into the world of a virgin; but gradually by the acknowledgment of His glorified lowliness, they were to be introduced to the belief of His Divine Eternity. To these words, however, he subjoins, as if covertly declaring that he was the true God, I baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost. For who can doubt, that none other but God can give the grace of the Holy Ghost.

JEROME. For what is the difference between water and the Holy Ghost, who was borne over the face of the waters? Water is the ministry of man; but the Spirit is ministered by God.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Now we are baptized by the Lord in the Holy Ghost, not only when in the day of our baptism, we are washed in the fount of life, to the remission of our sins, but also daily by the grace of the same Spirit we are inflamed, to do those things which please God.

VERSES 9-11

9. And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan.

10. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him:

11. And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Mark the Evangelist, like a hart, longing after the fountains of water, leaps forward over places, smooth and steep; and, as a bee laden with honey, he sips the tops of the flowers. Wherefore he hath shewn us in his narrative Jesus coming from Nazareth, saying, And it came to pass in those days, &c.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Forasmuch as He was ordaining a new baptism, He came to the baptism of John, which, in respect of His own baptism, was incomplete, but different from the Jewish baptism, as being between both. He did this that He might shew, by the nature of His baptism, that He was not baptized for the remission of sins, nor as wanting the reception of the Holy Ghost: for the baptism of John was destitute of both these. But He was baptized that He might be made known to all, that they might believe on Him and fulfil all righteousness, which is keeping of the commandments: for it had been commanded to men that they should submit to the Prophet’s baptism.

BEDE. (in Marc. i. 4) He was baptized, that by being baptized Himself He might shew His approval of John’s baptisme, and that, by sanctifying the waters of Jordan through the descent of the dove, He might shew the coming of the Holy Ghost in the laver of believers; whence there follows, And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Holy Spirit like a dove descending, and resting upon him. But the heavens are opened, not by the unclosing of the elements, but to the eyes of the spirit, to which Ezekiel in the beginning of his book relates that they were opened; (Ezek. 1.) or this His seeing the heavens opened after baptism was done for our sakes, to whom the door of the kingdom of heaven is opened by the laver of regeneration.

PSEUDO-CHRYSOSTOM. (Vict. Ant. e Cat. in Marc.) Or else, that from heaven sanctification might be given to men, and earthly things be joined to heavenly. But the Holy Spirit is said to have descended upon Him, not as if He then first came to Him, for He never had left Him; but that He might shew forth the Christ, Who was preached by John, and point Him out to all, as it were by the finger of faith.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) This event also, in which the Holy Ghost was seen to come down upon baptism, was a sign of spiritual grace to be given to us in baptism.

PSEUDO-JEROME. But this is the anointing of Christ according to the flesh, namely, the Holy Ghost, of which anointing it is said, God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows. (Ps. 45:8)

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Well indeed in the shape of a dove did the Holy Ghost come down, for it is an animal of great simplicity, and far removed from the malice of gall, that in a figure He might shew us that He looks out for simple hearts, and deigns not to dwell in the minds of the wicked.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Again, the Holy Ghost came down in the shape of a dove, because in the Canticles it is sung of the Church: (Cant. passim.) My bride, my love, my beloved, my dove. Bride in the Patriarchs, love in the Prophets, near of kin in Joseph and Mary, beloved in John the Baptist, dove in Christ and His Apostles: to whom it is said, Be ye wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Mat. 10:16)

BEDE. (ubi sup.) Now the Dove sat on the head of Jesus, lest any one should think that the voice of the Father was addressed to John and not to Christ. And well did he add, abiding on Him; for this is peculiar to Christ, that the Holy Ghost once filling Him should never leave Him. For sometimes to His faithful disciples the grace of the Spirit is conferred for signs of virtue, and for the working of miracles, sometimes it is taken away; though for the working of piety and righteousness, for the preservation of love to God and to one’s neighbour, the grace of the Spirit is never absent. But the voice of the Father shewed, that He Himself, who came to John to be baptized with the others, was the very Son of God, willing to baptize with the Holy Spirit, whence there follows, And there came a voice from heaven, Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased. Not that this informed the Son Himself of a thing of which He was ignorant, but it shews to us what we ought to believe.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. ii. 14) Wherefore Matthew relates that the voice said, This is my beloved Son; for he wished to shew that the words, This is My Son, were in fact said, that thus the persons who heard it might know that He, and not another, was the Son of God. But, if you ask, which of these two sounded forth in that voice, take which you will, only remember, that the Evangelists, though not relating the same form of speaking, relate the same meaning. And that God delighted Himself in His Son, we are reminded in these words, In thee I am well pleased.

BEDE. (ubi sup.) The same voice has taught us, that we also, by the water of cleansing, and by the Spirit of sanctification, may be made the sons of God. The mystery of the Trinity also is shewn forth in the baptism; the Son is baptized, the Spirit comes down in the shape of a dove, the voice of the Father bearing witness to the Son is heard.

PSEUDO-JEROME. Morally also it may be interpreted; we also, drawn aside from the fleeting world by the smell and purity of flowers, run with the young maidens after the bridegroom, (v. Cant. 1:2. 3.) and are washed in the sacrament of baptism, from the two fountains of the love of God, and of our neighbour, by the grace of remission, and mounting up by hope gaze upon heavenly mysteries with the eyes of a clean heart. Then we receive in a contrite and lowly spirit, with simplicity of heart, the Holy Spirit, who comes down to the meek, and abides in us, by a never-failing charity. And the voice of the Lord from heaven is directed to us the beloved of God; Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God; (Matt. 5:9) and then the Father, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, is well-pleased with us, when we are made one spirit with God.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.
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