The procla­ma­tion of John the Bap­tist

Gospel Read­ing: Lk 3:15-16, 21-22 HE

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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.

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