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14 The Message w for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana I Distinction between baptisms: John baptizes Jesus By FATHER DONALD DILGER Columnist Gospel Commentary for January 11, 1997: The Baptism Of Jesus: Cycle C: Luke 3:15-16, 21-22 All four canonical (accepted as containing reve- lation) gospels carefully defend the superiority of Jesus and his ministry over the person and ministry of John the Baptizer. We may assume that the reason for this was the strength of public opinion among some first-century Jews that John was the messiah. Luke alludes to this problem in the opening words of today's gospel, "As the people were in expectation, and all questioned in their hearts concerning John, whether perhaps he might be the messiah .... "The gospels have various ways of defending the superi- ority of Jesus. For example, the Gospel of John refers to John the Baptizer as a burning and shining lamp for a while," and insists that John "was not the light but was to bear witness to the light." Of Jesus that same gospel reads, "He was the true light that enlightens everyone coming into the world." Later the Gospel of John puts these words into the mouth of John the Baptizer, "He must increase. I must decrease." These are only a few examples of a much wider program to put John the Baptizer and his fol- lowers in proper Christian perspective. That John the Baptizer had a following long after his death is clear from Luke's Acts of Apostles 18:25-19:6. Luke, along with Mark and Matthew, have their own way of demonstrating the superiority of Jesus. It is through their description of competing bap- tisms. All three gospels portray John the Baptizer saying in one form or another, "I baptize you with water. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." This statement is part of today' s gospel reading. Luke will demonstrate the "fire" of the Holy Spirit in his Pentecost scene in Acts 2:1-4, where the coming of the Holy Spirit symbolically sets afire the 120 disciples gathered in prayer with Mary the mother of Jesus and his relatives. Luke wrote earlier in his description of John's baptism that John proclaimed "a baptism of repen- tance for the forgiveness of sins." If this is the pur- pose of John's baptism, why is Jesus baptized at all? According to early Christian theology expressed in the New Testament Letter to the Hebrews 4:15; John 8:46; I John 3:5, Jesus is sinless. Therefore Jesus has no need of undezgoing "a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins." The gospels give no clear answer to this, but it obvious that Mark, our oldest gospel, opened a can of worms when he decided to write about the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptiz- er. Matthew, Luke, and John all had to struggle with this problem. Matthew's solution is to have the Bap- tizer object to Jesus that Jesus should rather baptize him. Then Jesus orders John to baptize him. Luke has a more interesting way of dealing with this problem In 3:19-20 Herod Antipas puts John into prison. In 3: 21 Jesus comes to be baptized and Luke never has to admit that John the Baptizer performed the baptism. The Gospel of John makes no attempt at explaining the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptizer. The author simply omits the whole event. Perhaps we should follow the wisdom of St. Augustine. Commenting on a yery difficult passage in the Gospel of John, Augus- tine writes that if all the great minds before him couldn't explain this passage, why he should he even try? End of discussion! In describing the baptism of Jesus, Mark, Matthew, and Luke each have their own nuances. For Mark the baptism of Jesus is a demonstration of Jesus having been chosen or set apart as Son of God. Thus the voice from heaven in Mark does not say, "This is my beloved Son," but "You Son." Matthew had already procl of Jesus in an earlier chapter, in the Joseph and in his first birth of Jesus Matthew the baptism of Jesus by John Jesus, like every faithful Jew, accepts th John the Baptizer as a divine mission later by Jesus' own mission. The in Matthew reveals divine sonship not Mark, but to others; therefore, "This is Son." Luke de-emphasizes the baptism! sizes the giving of the Holy Spirit. contribution is that the heavens were Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus, came from heaven only after Jesus does before every important event in the Luke. Luke thus demonstrates came upon Jesus not through John's through Jesus' prayer. The Holy Spirit Jesus from now on in Luke's gospel will have Jesus turn to prayer again Perhaps this is the lesson we can today's gospel reading Jesus, a Christian does not matter without first praying. In prayer, "the heavens are opened and descends" to lead us throughout baptized as infants with the bal the Spirit cause the effects of that ba renewed when we turn to prayer and let Spirit lead us. St. Paul teaches that but we, too, are sons and daughters voice from heaven comes to everyone received the Holy Spirit: "You are my You are my beloved daughter! .... Readings: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; 3:15-16, 21-22 California nun really knows about separation, By CYRIL JONES-KELLETT Catholic News Service ing parishes to form programs which will reach out compas- sionately and effectively to peo- ple who have suffered divorce and separation. She said many divorced and separated people feel they are unworthy of maintaining a con- nection with the church, often i t's a time when you than any other time because Catholics have such a strong sense of the importance of marriage. "You feel like somehow you failed," she said in an interview with The Southern Cross, San Diego diocesan newspaper. "You feel like you let God down, you let the church down, you let your family down." Father Bill Ortmann, director of the San Diego Diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life, said he is pleased that Sis- ter Grimaud has taken on her new ministry. "There are thousands of divorced and separated Catholics, and they feel rejected by the church," he saidl "But the church really cares for them, really wants to reach out to them." Both Father Ortmann and Sis- ter Grimaud said that, at least initially, a big part of her job will be rejuvenating "Beginning Experience," a retreat program for divorced and separated CARLSBAD, Calif. (CNS) It's clear Sister Lenora Grirnaud, a Sister of St. Clare, is not a typ- ical woman religious when she starts talking about her children and grandchildren. When she tells of her own divorce and the annulment of her 24-year marriage, her unique preparation for her new job becomes apparent. Working out of St. Eliza- beth Seton Parish in Carlsbad, a coastal community north of San Diego, Sister Grimaud has taken on the task of revitalizing dioce- san ministry to divorced and separated Catholics. "It's a time when you need the church more than any other time," she said of the painful period of divorce. "You need the sacraments. But usually for the divorced person it's also a time when, if the church doesn't reach out to them, they tend to separate from the church." Sister Grimaud sees her task as encouraging existing support groups, training facilitators for new support groups and help- I Hi-Tech Sheet Metal Inc. ., ..... need the church more o Catholics. Beginning Experience helps divorced and separated people to begin looking forward again, and begin finding new ways to share their gifts, according to Father Ortmann. Sister Grimaud said hosting the retreat program locally will allow the diocese to locate and encourage divorced and sepa- rated people who can form sup- port groups in their parishes. "It's very intense," Sister Gri- maud said of the weekend experience. "It's an excellent training program as well as helping people to come to clo- sure and find healing, finding a place back within the church." Recognition of the healing that is necessary and possible is cen- tral to ministry with the divorced and separated, Sister Grimaud said. "I see my main ministry as helping divorced and separated people to be reconciled with themselves, with God, and with the church." For those who might worry that ministry to divorced and separated people compromises the church's position on mar- riage as a lifelong commit- ment, Sister Grimaud said, "Marriage is for life, but at the same time we are called to reach out to the alienated, those who are hurting, those who are wounded. "They need to hear that God loves them and that he's calling them to come close to him," she added. In addition to the traumatized adults, "there are so many chil- dren who are affected by divorce," Father Ortmann said. The children at least indirectly can benefit from a ministry which helps their parents to remain a part of the church. As much as she would like to see support and se F every parish,, S voiced the hope grams will be for the people in them. * "I would like separated and more integrated whether communities, ministry, "move out 00tovi00 Evansville, 81 COMPLETE INSURANCE SERVICE Auto! Home! Fire & Life! Your Personal Service Agent James L. Will Ins. Agency Inc. 1925 W. Franklin Street 425-3187 I I II I Residential, Industrial & Commercial Heating & Cooling Installation Sales & Service I 422-9242 '] Opened by Michael and Patr/cia Koch 15 S. Third Avenue, Evansville I I II i I I II II II I I a,00V t