Cycle (C) Baptism of the Lord

 Is. 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Lk. 3:15-16, 21-22

Today's First Reading from the Book of Isaiah consisted of a prophecy related to the coming of the promised Messiah. God spoke to His people through the prophet Isaiah. The Lord God told Isaiah to comfort His people. The Reading from the Gospel of Luke describes the Baptism of Jesus. This was the event that marked the official beginning of the Jesus’ ministry on earth as Christ the Redeemer. When Jesus was baptized the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, 'You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.'" 

The Book of Isaiah contains four “Servant Songs.” This is the first. Isiah spoke about the messiah to come: “I have endowed him

with my spirit that he may bring true justice to the nations. He does not cry out or shout aloud, or make his voice heard in the streets.” Faithfully he brings true justice.

There are many people who fought for justice and brought a change in the world. Rosa Parks was an African American civil rights activist who became famous for taking a stand — by sitting down.

On the evening of December 1, 1955, Parks sat at the front of a bus in Alabama, heading home after a long day of work. During her journey, she was asked by a conductor to give up her seat to a white passenger. She refused and was arrested for disobeying an Alabama law requiring black people to relinquish seats to white people when the bus was full.

Her arrest sparked a 381-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system. It also led to a 1956 Supreme Court decision banning segregation on public transportation.

 Manjunath Shanmugam was an IIM graduate and a sales officer in the Indian Oil Corporation. His short-lived fight began when he found out that 2 petrol pumps at Lakhimpur Khiri in Uttar Pradesh, were selling adulterated petrol. He, as an officer, sealed the 2 pumps. However, he later found out that the pumps had begun functioning again without his knowledge. Manjunath, who had dedicated himself to the truth of this fuel station and absolutely refused the selling of impure fuel, went to the pump one day to confront the authorities. As a result of his going against them, the people in authority of the pump shot Manjunath and killed him. A trust was then started in his name, which continued to fight his case and got him justice. 

Govind Ragho Khairnar was a common man who went on to become an officer in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). His fight began against the corrupt system when he noticed illegal encroachments across the city and brought them to attention. Due to this, he was suspended and brought to trial for insubordination. However, he won the case in High Court and was reinstated in his position in the BMC. Thereafter, he continued his battles against the land mafias and land encroachments. The people recognized his fight and gave him the title ‘One Man Demolition Army’. 

The great American Senator and Attorney General Robert Kennedy said this half a century ago:

“The glory of justice and the majesty of law are created not just by the Constitution – nor by the courts – nor by the officers of the law – nor by the lawyers – but by the men and women who constitute our society – who are the protectors of the law as they are themselves protected by the law.”

At the beginning of his book, the prophet Isaiah convicts a “sinful nation, people laden with iniquity”. The society he describes is full of bribes, fixes itself on material wealth and denies justice to the weak.

The prophet implores the people to “learn to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow”. As Christians, we need to respond to this call. In our baptismal covenant we enter into a sacred relationship with God through Christ Jesus. We promise to continue in the Apostle’s teaching, that we will persist in resisting evil, that we will proclaim the Gospel message in our words and our actions and we commit ourselves to seeking and serving Jesus in all persons.

Today, as we each renew the vows we made at our baptism let us recommit ourselves to living into those sacred promises. Let us repent of our own failure to follow in the way of love and rededicate ourselves to becoming Christ to the world.