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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Jan. 12, 2014

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

January 12, Feast of the 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 images of the Messiah offered in Isaiah and Matthew emphasize the gentle yet powerful nature of Jesus. The Isaiah passage is a study in contrasts, and we humans have a hard time wrapping our minds around this very thing. It's such a contrast that it seems an oxymoron: "He shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on the earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching."

We've heard all this said so many times that we likely no longer hear it at all. This is not the way we think of rulers making their way in the world. But it is the way that Jesus came to us to bring his kingdom.

Perhaps many would fault our new pope, Pope Francis, because he fits this model, but many are attracted to this approach of gentle strength. But popes are not the only ones who can act with a gentleness that attracts or with a seeming contrast of strength and meekness.

A few nights ago, I dreamed of an old friend, Ralph, who was strong and meek, a man who spoke seldom and smiled often. In my dream I approached him and his wife Gilberte. When I turned and hugged my friend, I noted that he was wearing a new purple winter jacket -- finer than any off-the-rack product I'd seen, but of a style that seemed fitting to this man who had retired from a career as a meat inspector before his death only a few years ago.

It was a delightful moment, but I didn't realize his purple coat represented his royal status as a child of the King of Kings until a day or two later.

God -- Ralph's Father and Our Father -- doesn't see as we see. When he sees his children who have taken on his nature he doesn't see a meat inspector and a mechanic or an engineer and an administrative assistant. He sees his royal children, clothed in purple, full of gentleness and goodness and power.


Who do you know who shows contrasting gentleness, meekness and strength? How can you learn from them?


"And a voice came from the heavens, saying, 'This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'" -- Matthew 3:17


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