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The WORD. The TRUTH.

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After the celebration of the Epiphany the Baptism of our Lord follows. The three synoptic accounts of Jesus’ baptism fMt 3:13-18; Mk 1:9 -11; Lk 3:15-16, 21-22) are at one regarding certain basic data: the baptism itself, the subordination of John the Baptist to Jesus, the theophany of divine recognition seeing Jesus as God’s beloved Son.

In Luke (gospel this Sunday) some modifications on the Marcan source are observable to accent features that are characteristically Lucan: a. with ‘all the people’ (vv15, 21) points to his universalism motif; b. omission of the geographical details (he has his own itinerary to follow); c. omission that Jesus was baptized “by John” (subordination of John); d. depicts Jesus at prayer (a motif throughout); e. adds “in bodily form” to the descent of the Spirit like a dove (cf Luke describing the descent of the Spirit in Acts 2:1-4).

The main purpose of the baptism scene in Luke is to announce the heavenly identification of Jesus as “Son” and as Yahweh’s servant. Although earlier from the infancy narrative he is already identified as Savior, Lord and Messiah (2:11), hailed as “Son”(1:32,35) and the activity of the spirit in his regard had already been made clear (1:35). What made this special in Luke is that the heavenly declaration took place while he is at prayer, touching on Jesus’ inner experience. Thus the voice from heaven highlights his relationship to God as his Son and at the same time his Davidic role as the King Messiah (Ps 2:7). But the addition of the adjective “beloved” adds a specification about sonship that is not present in Ps 2:7, expressive of a special love-relationship between the heavenly Father and the Son, (cf Transfiguration 9:28-36). Ending that declaration with the phrase “with you I am well pleased”, from the verb ‘eudokeō’ (εὐδόκἐω), an allusion to Isa 42:1, the beginning of the first Servant Song (cf 1st reading), casting Jesus in the role of the Servant of Yahweh, this highlights his obedience to the will of the Father through suffering by which He was well pleased.

By virtue of Baptism we become truly God’s sons and daughters, and beloved at that, even while we have not done anything yet. But surely God will be well pleased at us if like Jesus we become truly obedient to Him even at the point of suffering and giving up our lives for Him and his kingdom.

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Veritas Editorial

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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