First, both Fr. McCabe and I wish to thank all those who expressed your Christmas greetings to us through cards, food and gifts! We feel very blessed! We pray that you and all of your loved ones have a blessed 2019!
Second, remember that this Sunday marks the conclusion of the Christmas season. The Christmas season always seems to go by so quickly. Let us remember to give thanks to our good Lord for all the graces we received during this past Christmas season!
This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus in Jordan by St. John the Baptist. We hear in the Gospel that God the Father publicly manifested His love for Jesus. When each of us received the Sacrament of Baptism, we were baptized into the grace of Jesus Christ, offered to us through His Passion and death on the Cross. Just as our Lord’s Baptism was a sacred moment for Jesus and for all those who witnessed it, so was our personal baptism in our Lord. Do you know when and where you were baptized? If not, try to find out. It is a good practice to have special remembrance and gratitude for the grace of Baptism!
Today I share with you a portion of a Scripture commentary on the Gospel of John 1:33, on the Baptism of our Lord by St. Cyril of Alexandria (b. 370 – d. 444):
“In a plan of surpassing beauty the Creator of the universe decreed the renewal of all things in Christ. In His design for restoring human nature to its original condition, He gave a promise that He would pour out on it the Holy Spirit along with His other gifts, for otherwise our nature could not enter once more into the peaceful and secure possession of those gifts.
He therefore appointed a time for the Holy Spirit to come upon us: this was the time of Christ’s coming. He gave this promise when He said: In those days, that is, the days of the Savior, I will pour out a share of my Spirit on all mankind.
When the time came for this great act of unforced generosity, which revealed in our midst the only-begotten Son, clothed with flesh on this earth, a man born of woman, in accordance with Holy Scripture, God the Father gave the Spirit once again. Christ, as the first fruits of our restored nature, was the first to receive the Spirit. John the Baptist bore witness to this when he said: I saw the Spirit coming down from heaven, and it rested on Him.
Christ “received the Spirit” in so far as He was man, and in so far as man could receive the Spirit. He did so in such a way that, though He is the Son of God the Father, begotten of His substance, even before the Incarnation, indeed before all ages, yet He was not offended at hearing the Father say to Him after He had become man: You are my Son; today I have begotten you. [Psalm 110].
The Father says of Christ, who was God, begotten of Him before the ages, that He has been “begotten today,” for the Father is to accept us in Christ as His adopted children. The whole of our nature is present in Christ, in so far as He is man. So the Father can be said to give the Spirit again to the Son, though the Son possesses the Spirit as His own, in order that we may receive the Spirit in Christ. The Son therefore took to Himself the seed of Abraham, as Scripture says, and became like His brothers in all things.
The only-begotten Son received the Spirit, but not for His own advantage, for the Spirit is His, and is given in Him and through Him, as we have already said. He receives it to renew our nature in its entirety and to make it whole again, for in becoming man He took our entire nature to Himself. If we reason correctly, and use also the testimony of Scripture, we can see that Christ did not receive the Spirit for Himself, but rather for us in Him; for it is also through Christ that all gifts come down to us.”
What a great gift is the Sacrament of Baptism! Let us thank our good Lord today for this grace!
Through the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, St. Joseph, and St. Columbkill, may our good Lord grant us His Peace and Joy in this New Year!
In Christ through Mary,
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