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Weekly Bulletin January 10, 2021
by Terrie Evans
On this Sunday we commemorate the Baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist in the Jordan River and the end of the Christmas Season. In the Roman Catholic Church, the Baptism of the Lord is observed as a distinct feast in the Roman Rite, the manner of celebrating the sacraments and other ecclesiastical ceremonies authorized by the Diocese of Rome. At one time, the Baptism of Christ was celebrated on Epiphany which commemorates the coming of the Magi, the baptism of Christ and the wedding at Cana. The Baptism of the Lord was originally one of three Gospel events marked by the Feast of the Epiphany until Pope Pius XII instituted a separate liturgical commemoration of the Baptism in 1955. In the history of the church, The Tridentine Calendar had no feast of the Baptism of the Lord for almost four centuries.
It is celebrated in the Catholic Church and also the Anglican and Lutheran Churches on the 1st Sunday following the Epiphany of Our Lord. In Eastern Churches this feast is called Theophany (Manifestation of God) because at the Baptism of Christ in the River Jordan God appeared in three persons. The Baptism of Christ in the Jordan is the second Epiphany or manifestation of the Lord; the past, the present, and the future are made manifest in this Epiphany. At the time of His Baptism, Jesus descended into the River Jordan to sanctify its waters and to give them the power to beget the Son of God. This important event is of the second creation which the entire trinity intervenes.
Many of the incidents that took place at Christ’s baptism are symbols of what happened at our own Baptism. At Christ’s Baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, he was proclaimed the “Beloved Son “of The Father and the heavens were opened to him. At our own Baptism, the Trinity entered our soul, we became the adopted sons and daughters of God and heaven was opened to all of us.
On this Sunday in Rome, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, our Pope will baptize babies in the Sistine Chapel, a custom initiated by Pope John Paul II. A prayer to honor the Baptism: Almighty ever-living God, who when Christ had been Baptized in the River Jordan and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption, reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be well pleasing to you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.