Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival (Baptism of Our Lord 2015)

The Baptism of Christ by Tintoretto
     Happy Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord!  Welcome to Sunday Snippets – A Catholic Carnival: this is a weekly convocation of a varied mix of  Catholic bloggers who share their posts from the past week.  The main gathering (the “mother ship”, as it were) is here, at This That and the Other Thing, under the auspices of our fearless leader RAnn.
     Today is the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and so on the last day of the Christmas Season we celebrate the first event in the Public ministry of Jesus.  All four Gospels tell of John’s baptism of Jesus, but all present a slightly different view.  Mark’s description (which we hear in today’s Mass) is the sparest description; in Luke, the Baptist describes Jesus as the judge at the end of time, separating the wheat from the chaff; John’s Gospel recounts John the Baptist hailing Jesus as the Lamb of God.  They all tell of John’s recognition of himself as a merely the forerunner to Jesus, to whom he is inferior, but only Matthew records his reluctance to baptize the Lord:

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”  But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. (Matthew 3:13-15)

John knows that Jesus, being sinless, requires no Baptism, but Jesus seeks it out in order to show his commitment to being one of us.  In this account we see Jesus acting out what St. Paul tells the Phillipians:

. . . though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Phillipians 2:6-7)

In all the Gospels, we see the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus and the voice of the Father proclaim him to be the beloved Son in whom the Father is well pleased.  And so Christ’s Public Ministry begins with an image of all three Persons of the Trinity working together, and an image of Grace in action.  This scene sums up the meaning of the Nativity we have just celebrated, and tells us something about the agenda for the ministry that is begun.  And in Matthew’s Gospel, we are reminded that it is all Grace, a word for which the Latin root gratia means not just favor, but favor freely bestowed (hence related English words “gratuity” and “gratis”); Grace is completely, absolutely, free. God needs nothing, nothing is necessary for Him: He does it all for us, He gives us a share in His own life, as a completely unnecessary gift.  Because He loves us.

     Well, then, what about the past week at Principium et Finis?  Here’s what we have been up to:

Monday – We close out the Twelve Days of Christmas with one of the great Christmas songs, song by a truly great singer: “12th Day of Christmas – Adeste Fideles (Luciano Pavarotti)" [here

Tuesday – on the Feast of Epiphany we see the Magi and little reminder (in Psalm 117) that the New Testament, as St. Augustine tells us, is concealed in the Old: “Praise the LORD, all nations!”   [here]

Wednesday – Are we pro-lifers really just religious fanatics imposing our views on everyone else? “Abortion Myth #15” [here]

Thursday – A few thoughts on the problem of spiritual apathy, sparked by an unexpected book:  “Evangelizing the Lukewarm?” [here]

Saturday – In which I make a plea for thinking good and hard before throwing out the experience of the last fifteen or so centuries:  [here]

. . . and A SONG for today's Feast: