The proclamation of John the Baptist
Gospel Reading: Lk 3:15-16, 21-22 HE
Tpeople were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah. John answered them all, saying, “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
You are my beloved sons and daughters
The Lord’s Baptism proclaims the truth that we become sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and with the same Spirit, the Christian believer is REBORN, INITIATED, CONSECRATED, and EMPOWERED (R.I.C.E) in the Lord. Through Baptism we are:
REBORN in the Spirit to be different persons, members of the family of God. Jesus tells Nicodemus, “Amen, amen, I say to you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn 3:5). By natural birth we are born, but we will die. By being born in the Spirit, we are given the seed of eternal life.
INITIATED. Baptism is the first sacrament of initiation: the basis of Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit, and the door to the other sacraments. When one is baptized at infancy, one grows in faith and maturity until one can confirm: “This is my faith and the faith of my family and my community.”
CONSECRATED. God consecrates and blesses us. The initiative comes from God, who freely gives all blessings from heaven. We are incorporated and configured into Christ. Baptism seals us with the indelible spiritual mark (character), the seal of belonging to Christ.
EMPOWERED. We are given the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to recognize with Jesus that God is our Father. As Paul tells the Romans, “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a spirit of adoption, through which we cry, ‘Abba, Father!’ The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom 8:14-17).
As sons and daughters of God in Jesus Christ, we are challenged to grow in the faith and grace that comes with such a privilege. In the face of every baptized person we see Christ.
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SOURCE: “365 Days with the Lord,” ST PAULS, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail: publish[email protected]; Website: http://www.stpauls.ph.