Church

Rediscover the Beauty of Being Baptised

I would encourage all the faithful to rediscover the beauty of being baptized, to belong to the family of God and to give joyful witness of their faith, so that it generates good fruits and harmony.
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Church

Anglicans Heading To Rome Told They Can't Stay In Their Churches

This was to be expected:

Anglicans defecting to Rome are being told they must leave their churches with clergy even been asked to move away from their parish.

Read more here.

Things are sadly going to turn nasty.

Church

Why Did Jesus Bother to be Baptised?

I touched on this in my homily earlier. Here Carl E Olson has some Scriptural reflection on the Readings for today, The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord:

… Jesus did not descend into the waters because He needed to, but because we needed Him to. And this reflects the incredible love revealed in the Incarnation. God did not have to become man for our sake, but He did in order that we who were blind and living in darkness, as the prophet Isaiah wrote, could be cleansed of sin, made right with God, and be filled with God’s grace. That’s what baptism will do for you.

The entire piece is here.

Church

Christina-Taylor Green

Christina Taylor Greene is the dear nine-year old little girl who was shot yesterday during a senseless shooting spree involving the Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, in Arizona:

She died of her wounds later in hospital at Tucson…

MSNBC in reporting on the victims has:

The 9-year-old who was shot at the event and later died at a hospital went to the Giffords event with a neighbor because she had just been elected to the student council and was interested in government, her uncle told KTAR in Phoenix.

The neighbor, who was not identified Saturday, was shot four times, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Born Sept. 11, 2001, according to NBC station KVOA, Christina-Taylor attended Mesa Verde Elementary School. She was one of 50 babies featured in ” Faces of Hope: Babies Born on 9/11.”

Christina was also involved in ballet, Little League baseball and her church.

Her grandfather, former major-league pitcher Dallas Green, was the Philadelphia Phillies’ team manager when they won the World Series in 1980.

She recently received her first Holy Communion at St. Odilia’s Catholic Church on Tucson’s northwest wide, Catholic Diocese of Tucson officials said.

“‘Let the children come to me,’ Jesus said (Matthew 19:14). Christina is with Him,” Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Gerald F.Kicanas wrote in a prepared statement from Jordan, where he is attending a bishops’ meeting.

This breaks the heart completely!

RIP + Lord, please visit and deal graciously with the bereaved.

And do pray for all those whose lives have forever been changed by this horrific event.

UPDATE:    An interview with her father:

Church

Homily – Baptism of our Lord, Year A (2011)

‘Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptised by him’ (Matt 3:13). It was not long ago, at the start of Advent, that we read the account of St John the Baptist, this wild, fiery sort of character, living out in the Judean wilderness, wearing strange clothes, eating funny things and proclaiming the coming Messiah. Now, as the liturgical season of Christmas comes to a close, we meet up with him again.

The area where he stayed is incredibly desolate, arid and harsh. Visiting the traditional site of Jesus’ baptism today requires that you to take with a lot of water and sunscreen. Thousands of pilgrims still visit the spot, particularly over Easter when baptisms are very popular. The river Jordan, which runs from the Sea of Galilee southwards before emptying itself into the Dead Sea, is a mere shadow of what it once was in Biblical times. Some of the greatest events in the history of the nation Israel are connected with the river, and the setting still leaves an indelible mark on the heart and mind of the pilgrim. And it really is not hard to imagine Jesus coming down from picturesque Galilee to the austere desert to meet up with this, his distant relative John, so that God’s plan could be fulfilled.

The first question about the Baptism of Jesus that confronts any enquiring mind is, ‘why would Jesus, the Son of God, the sinless One, submit to baptism at the hand of someone who was completely unqualified to baptise Him?’ Even John himself was confounded at idea and his words in verse 14 indicate as much: ‘I need to be baptised by you, and yet you are coming to me?’

He knew, you see, that though he was a respected prophet in his own right, a devout, holy, believer and follower of God, he was no match for Jesus, who was Messiah. So what’s going on here?  

Jesus’ answer to John’s objection gives us a good clue, ‘Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness’ (Matt 3:15). Jesus does not need purification. That’s what ritual baptism symbolised at the time: immersion in water representing the removal or washing away of impurity or sin. Often it was used as a rite of initiation to a state of conversion or consecration. But Jesus, who has no need of cleansing, submits to baptism so as to identify with sinful people, those who ultimately He came to save and redeem by His own substitutionary death upon the Cross. Moreover, in doing so, He is fulfilling Old Testament prophecy and inaugurating His earthly ministry.             

Something else takes place too… A spectacular event: Jesus in His in baptism reveals to mankind a glimpse of the mystery that is the Holy Trinity. ‘After Jesus was baptised, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were open (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him. And a voice came from heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”’(Matt 3:16-17). What an event!

All three Persons of the Blessed Holy Trinity, who are but One, are present and functioning in this scene: The Father speaks, the Son is baptised, and the Holy Spirit comes down. Absolutely awesome… What a powerful affirmation!

Jesus is now released to pursue His public ministry as the wheels of God’s plan of salvation are set into motion. St Gregory Nyssa puts it this way: ‘Jesus enters the filthy, sinful waters of the world and when He comes out, brings up and purifies the entire world with Him’. And His baptism is indeed the prototype of the Christian’s baptism.

In the Sacrament of Baptism, you and I are cleansed from sin. The waters of Baptism are a visible sign of the Holy Spirit’s invisible work. Just as you and I cannot be born to live an natural life without physical birth, so can we not live a spiritual life without baptism (Jn 3:3-6). Baptism joins us to Christ (Rom 6:3-4) and that means the acceptance of a complete change of life in Him.

Baptism is so much more than just a nice ceremony. It is an entry into a new covenant wrought by Jesus Christ. We need to understand this. If we have been baptised, that is who and what we are… in Christ. That is what defines us. An indelible mark has been placed upon us. And we need to remind ourselves of this anew, as and when required.

Isn’t so sad that we remember our earthly birthdays so easily – look how we’ve just celebrated Jesus’ – yet often haven’t the foggiest idea of when the day of our Baptism was, the day that we reborn, the day that we entered into a spiritual life in Christ Jesus, and became children of God? This is especially so for those baptised as infants. Baptism gives us cause to celebrate and today, the Church’s liturgy reminds us of this.      

Baptism is our common bond. It binds us together. Not just us, here, as a small faith community, but all Christians, who with Jesus have passed through the waters and risen with Him to a new and glorious life. ‘If you are eagerly looking for salvation, and if you believe in God, you may … become acquainted with the Christ of God, and, after being initiated [baptism], live a happy life’ (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 8).

That happy life is found and lead in following and serving Christ our Lord. Let us live out the faith and grace we have found in Him.    

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Bible Archaeology

Traditional Baptism Site to Open in Israel

Good news I thought, given too the fact that the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord today. The headline in the Jerusalem Post reads:

Jesus’s baptism site to open to public after 42 years.

After 42 years as a closed military zone, the site where John baptized Jesus along the shores of the Jordan River will permanently open to the public with a special ceremony on January 18.

Until now, those wanting to be healed by the same waters in which Jesus was blessed have had to coordinate their visits with the Civil Administration for Judea and Samaria…

Physically, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, but his spiritual birth occurred along this small bend of the Jordan River.

With an eye to transforming the baptismal spot into a major tourist attraction and oasis of regional cooperation, Israel has invested millions of shekels in upgrading the site, located over the Green Line in the Jordan Valley. After the 18th, it will operate like any other tourist site in Israel, under the auspices of Israel’s Nature and Parks Authority…

There is great potential for growth, particularly among Christians from Russia and the surrounding eastern bloc European countries, he said.

Jordan, he said, has known how to market its side of the river, where Christians are also drawn to the spiritual waters.

According to Shalom, 800,000 visitors come to the Jordanian side on an annual basis, but only 65,000 come to the Israeli shores.

Just half an hour before Shalom spoke, believers could be seen walking into the water on the Jordanian side. On the Israeli side, a small group of worshipers gathered around a priest as he sprinkled them with water from the river, with the help of a few green branches. But although they were within shouting distance of each other, neither group could cross the river, because it acts as a border between the two countries.

At the opening ceremony, Silvan said, he expects that some 20,000 religious Christians will be present…

More needs to be done, he said, to market the site as a Jewish biblical and historical attraction.

The whole report is here.

Ferrell Jenkins also has the news above with an excellent photo of the site taken from the Jordanian side of the Jordan River here.

Bible Places Blog comments here.