Well Pleased

Scripture Reading

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me. 
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals. 
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John. 
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. 
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

(Mark 1:7-11)

 

Scripture Study

1:7 I am not worthy: Evidence of John’s humility. Removing and carrying sandals was a menial task reserved for slaves serving their master. John regards himself as unworthy to perform even a slave’s task for the Messiah. ● Allegorically (St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Evan. 7): Jesus’ sandals, made from the skins of dead animals, represent mankind dead in sin. Once Christ clothed himself with our nature in the Incarnation, the miracle proved so profound that not even John was able to unfasten or explain this mystery of God-made-man.

1:9–11 The Baptism of Jesus. As One who is sinless, Jesus has no actual need for repentance (Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 2:22). He nevertheless receives John’s baptism to identify with sinners as part of the Father’s plan to save them (CCC 536). The voice of the Father, the Baptism of the Son, and the descent of the Spirit mark this episode as a revelation of the Blessed Trinity.

1:10 the heavens opened: The underlying expression is more dramatic than the translation, since the Greek verb schizō means to “rip” or “tear”. Heaven was thus “torn open” at the sound of God’s voice and the descent of the Spirit (Is 64:1). Elsewhere in Mark this same verb depicts the tearing of the Temple veil (15:38), an episode similarly accompanied by a declaration of Jesus’ Sonship (15:39). a dove: An image with various associations in the Bible (Song 1:15; 6:9; Hos 11:11; Mt 10:16). ● A close connection between the Spirit and a dove is found in Genesis: as the “Spirit of God” hovered over the waters at creation (Gen 1:2), so Noah sent forth a “dove” to hover over the flood waters once creation was cleansed and renewed (Gen 8:10–12). Jesus’ Baptism likewise inaugurates a new beginning for the world through the Spirit and prefigures our own cleansing through Baptism (1 Pet 3:18–22; CCC 536, 694, 701).

1:11 my beloved Son: The Father’s announcement echoes several OT passages. ● (1) Isaiah 42:1 prophecies the coming of God’s pleasing Servant, who will rescue Israel (Is 42:7) and be a “light to the nations” (Is 42:6). Jesus fulfills this role as the Suffering Servant (10:45) and light of the world (Jn 8:12). (2) Psalm 2:7 portrays King David as the anointed son of God. Jesus is here the royal Son anointed by the Spirit (Lk 4:18; Rom 1:3). (3) The same title was once given to Isaac, where the Greek OT translates “only son” in Gen 22:2, 12, as “my beloved son”. As Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac procured a divine oath of worldwide blessing (Gen 22:16–18), so Jesus is sent by the Father to fulfill this covenant oath and unleash the blessings promised to the patriarch (Jn 3:16; Rom 8:32).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, todays Gospel tells the story of the baptism of Jesus. The first thing we must keep in mind about the baptism of Jesus was that it was embarrassing. Here is the one that the first Christians maintained was the Son of God, the sinless lamb who takes away the sins of the world, the Word made flesh. So why the heck is he seeking a baptism of repentance?

There is no way around it: John was working in the country north of Jerusalem, along the banks of the Jordan river. And his theme was unambiguous: repent. Those who came to him were coming to have their sins dealt with; they were admitting their guilt.

As is usually the case with the Bible, there is an irony in the fire. Before ever a word passes Jesus’ lips, he is teaching, in fact communicating the heart of the faith, by this stunning reversal. In this gesture, God lays aside his glory and humbly joins us in our sinfulness, standing with us, assuming our burden.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV. 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 65–66.