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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 9, 2011

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

January 9, Baptism of the Lord

Cycle A Readings:

1) Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

Psalm 29:1-4, 3, 9-10

2) Acts 10:34-38

Gospel: Matthew 3:13-17

The readings for this weekend are all about power, gentleness and peace.

Seemingly contradictory images flow through the Scriptures. Isaiah's image in Chapter 42 is of the suffering servant on whom God has put his spirit to "bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street." Yet the Scriptures say of him, he will establish "justice on the earth."

The responsorial psalm, Psalm 29, presents images of the glory and power of God, contrasting with the repeated phrase of the response: "The Lord will bless his people with peace."

The baptism of Jesus in Matthew 3 speaks of him coming out of the water and "the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him," as a voice from the heavens says, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

My wife works with some extraordinary people teaching English as a Second Language to high school students. Two of her fellow teachers, in particular, have endured some personal and family hardships that would have flattened lesser folk. One is white, the other is black.

One currently takes care of her brother's children while he and his wife recover from an auto accident. This is in addition to her daily occupation, providing tender care while teaching refugees from war-torn countries around the world, ranging from Rwanda to Burma.

The other teacher recently had a breakthrough with a troubled student who had been involved in gangs and could not summon a belief in her own intelligence and capabilities -- until this teacher invested in her a good deal of one-on-one attention and instruction.

These women share, in common with my wife, a deep and abiding faith in the one who came up from the water that day, full of the power of the Holy Spirit. It is faith in him, and a portion of that same Spirit that they share, that allows them, day in and day out, to do as the Acts Scripture says of Jesus: going "about doing good," for God is with them. In their actions, we witness power and gentleness, God's power clothed in human weakness.


Do you know people who seem to be living out the promise of their baptism and faith in extraordinary ways? What can you do to serve the needs of others in a way that challenges you to draw on the strength that comes from God?


"I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations" (Isaiah 42:6).


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