Monday, January 09, 2012

Out of the Water

January 9, 2012

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness. Isaiah 42:6-7

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 1:9-11


As Catholics, we recognize that prayer is of the utmost importance, an invaluable contribution to helping poor people overseas. We invite you to join us in bringing to Our Lord the following intentions and thanks. Lord, help us to recognize you in the stranger in need, whether you show yourself in our path or reveal yourself in the poorest and most vulnerable people across the globe.

Let us pray that, in the New Year, the Spirit teaches us how to continually walk in faith and that the work of our hands, minds and hearts reflects the meaning of the Gospel. Lord, teach us to live our faith. As your word guides our souls, so let it guide our attitudes toward people in great need who look to us as their only hope. Let us pray for clearer understanding from you, Lord, of what you mean by seeking your kingdom first and by amassing treasure in heaven. Amen.



As our liturgical year starts moving forward, we encounter Jesus today at the Jordan River getting baptized by his cousin John. Those who were there that day encountered the entire Trinity. The voice of God. The presence of Jesus. The Spirit descending upon him.

Talk about the power of the present moment. The humanity and divinity of Jesus moves God the Father to speak and moves the Holy Spirit to descend upon Him. In Jesus, we have the perfect model of mercy merging together perfection in piety, study and action.

We share the same sacramental life with Jesus. As we are blessed “priest, prophet and king” with the waters of our baptism, the Lord calls upon us to share the mission of Jesus as well – being a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the spiritually blind and to bring prisoners of our culture of entertainment, death and commercialism out of confinement in darkness to experience the light of our Savior.


Being a light for the nations seems like a daunting task for us individually. Yet, as we emerge from the water of our baptism symbolically blessing ourselves with Holy Water as we leave Mass each week (or day), our actions can indeed make a difference in our world. Today, we can encounter Jesus at the Jordan, Jesus around the corner or Jesus halfway around the world.

Take Haiti. We are approaching the second anniversary of the devastating earthquake there. While much work must still be done to rebuild this poor island nation, the generosity of the world – person by person, country by country – have helped to get things moving in the right direction.

A recent news story reports that Haitians have seen real progress. The New York Times reported that about half of the 10 million cubic feet of quake debris has been removed from Port-au-Prince and other areas. It added that, “More people have access to clean water in the capital than before the quake. With investment from a Korean garment maker, an industrial park is being built in the northeast, with the promise of 20,000 jobs.

Yet there is still much that needs to be done. Catholic Relief Services reminds us that Haiti remains the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, with more than two-thirds of Haitians living on less than a dollar a day. About the size of the state of Maryland, Haiti's poverty is exacerbated by the needs of a large population and by political and socioeconomic instability.

The dire situation in Haiti was worsened by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January, 2010, which decimated the country's already decaying infrastructure. About 230,000 people died, and nearly 2 million Haitians were displaced. Catholic Relief Services has served in Haiti since 1954. Its experience there allowed CRS to respond to the earthquake immediately and has positioned it to be a key development actor as the country recovers.

There are many ways to participate in this and other projects of CRS. Pray. Learn. Act. Speak out. Get involved as an individual, a family, a school, a parish or faith community. Consider adding CRS to the list of charities you support and designate a gift to its efforts at rebuilding Haiti.

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