Jesus’ Prayer Opens The Heaven and The Holy Spirit Descends

Weekly Missionary Reflection
Sunday, 09 January 2022
FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Isa. 40:1-5,9-11; Ps. 104:1b-2,3-4,24-25,27-28,29-30; Tit. 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Luk. 3:15-16,21-22

The baptism of Jesus by John is an uncomfortable text. Why?  Because John’s baptism is the sign of the forgiveness of sins. Whereas Jesus is like a human in every respect except for sin! However, since this incident is historically solid, the evangelists had to tell it. As usual, Mark explained it the most vividly. Matthew said that at the beginning John “rejected” it, saying that he is the one, who should be baptized by Jesus. The evangelist John did not mention it, since he emphasized John’s role as the witness of Jesus, not as the  Baptizer. Luke also felt “uncomfortable” telling this scene, as it is clear in today’s Gospel: John had been put in prison by Herod (v. 20). And then it says that “Jesus also had been baptized”. Who baptized Jesus is not clear. What did Luke mean?

First, John the Baptist came from the last era of Israel (OT). His work ended before Jesus showed up (NT). Both of them never met each other except when they were in the womb when their mother met each other (Luke 1:41, 44). Luke clearly wants to separate the era of Israel (ended by John) from the era of the Kingdom of God (started from Jesus’ ministry). John was only considered as the forerunner who prepared the coming of Jesus (1:17, 76), without being necessary to meet and baptize Him. Jesus is far more glorious than John, both in terms of position (John is not worthy even to be His servant [cf. v. 16]) as well as in terms of His ministry (water baptism vs the baptism in Holy Spirit and fire). In another verse, it is emphasized that John’s baptism is not enough for someone to be a follower of Jesus (cf.  Acts 19:3-5).

Second, Jesus started His ministry when John was put in prison by Herod. Luke separated the periods of their ministries, but the end of their life was related to each other. The life of John ended in prison and was killed by Herod, the “foreign” (non-Jewish) political ruler. That became the sign of the end of the Messiah’s life, who would be killed by the religious ruler allying with Pilate, the infidel political leader.

Third, Jesus was praying when he was baptized (v. 21). Prayer is one of the special themes in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus started His work and important events in His life, with prayer (cf. Luke 6:12, 9:18, 28; 22:41: 23:46). He is always united with the Father in realizing the work of salvation. In this way, Jesus becomes the example for His people, both in past time (cf. Acts 1:14, 2:42) and present. You and I are asked to always see our ministry as part of the Father’s works, and also to keep asking for His guidance, strength, and assistance.

Fourth, Jesus’ prayer opens the heaven, Holy Spirit descends and the Father declares Him as His Beloved Son (v. 21-22). This verse is truly trinitarian. The sin of Adam closed the heaven, the prayer of The Son opens it definitely. Why? Because the Holy Spirit that worked in The Son, now continues her work in us, the Father’s children who believe in the Son. This is the time for you and me to renew our baptismal vow and commitment!

(Hortensius Mandaru – Indonesia Bible Society)

DAILY DEDICATED PRAYER

Lord, our Father, I present my today prayer, thought, word, work, joy, and sorrow in the unity with Your Son, Jesus Christ, who always presents Himself in the Eucharist for the salvation of the world. May the Holy Spirit animating Jesus, also be my guidance and strength today so that I am ready to be the witness of Your love.

Together with St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the Church, in particular, I present my prayer for our Pope and apostle prayer of Indonesian Church of this month:

For Universal Churches: True fraternity
We pray for those suffering from religious bullying and discrimination; may their right and dignity be honored for we are truly all brothers and sisters as human beings. We pray…

For Indonesian Churches intention: Warding off the hoax
In the midst of unclear information, gossip, and hoax which easily attract our emotion, may we be able to respond to it with a peaceful heart and common sense. We pray…

Amen

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