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January 11, 1991     The Message
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January 11, 1991

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January 11, 1990 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 Commentary  Mass Readings" Gospel Commentary for Sunday, January 13, 1991; The Baptism of Our Lord- Mark 1:7-11 Mark has just told us of John's first ministry, preaching repentance and a washing or baptism in the Jordan to express repentance. John seems to have met with considerable success. Then John fulfills his second ministry, to bear witness to Jesus as the one for whom he is preparing the peo- pl e . John points to his own unworthiness in rela- tion to "the Mighty One" who is coming after him. He is not even worthy to untie the sandal strings of the one for whom he is preparing. There is a comparison of John's baptism with that which Jesus initiates. John baptizes with water only; Jesus' baptism will bestow the Holy Spirit. Suddenly Jesus comes upon the scene to be baptized by John in the Jordan. He is said to come from the town of Nazareth in Galilee, a northern province of ancient Israel. John baptizes Jesus. As Jesus comes up out of the water, the heavens break open and a voice is heard: "You are my beloved Son. With you I am well pleased." This is Mark's version of the baptism of Jesus. A comparison with the other gospels is quite interesting. Mark is the oldest gospel and so we find no sign of a problem that becomes evident in the later gospels. The problem: How can Jesus sub- mit to a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins? How can Jesus, called "Son of God" in Mark's introduction and "Son" by the voice of heaven, submit to baptism by one who calls himself unworthy even to be his slave? The other gospels had to deal with these questions. 00kril hess of John to Jesus: t[ e baptism of Jesus In Matthew Jesus also comes from Galilee to be baptized by John in the Jordan. But John is made to protest and to suggest that Jesus should rather baptize him. Jesus has to order John to bap- tize him and John consents to do so. Thus Mat- thew solves the problem by having John perform the baptism because Jesus orders him to do so. Luke is even more interesting. He describes Herod putting John into prison before he mentions the baptism of Jesus. Then he adds: "When all the people were baptized and Jesus was also bap- tized .... " But Luke cannot bring himself to say that John baptized Jesus. The still later Gospel of John does not even mention the baptism of Jesus, only the descent of the Spirit upon Jesus. As is true of every part of the gospels, the story of the baptism of Jesus was preserved and in- cluded in the gospel for a theological purpose rather than being part of a biography. Why does Mark include the baptism of Jesus in his gospel? The scene must be taken as a whole, including the voice from heaven. In contrast to Luke and Mat- thew, Mark has no infancy gospel. There is no angelic annunciation in Mark corresponding to that made to Joseph in Matthew and to Mary in Luke. These annunciations identified the one to be born of Mary, In Mark the voice from heaven serves that same purpose. The voice identifies Jesus as Son, thus corroborating Mark's statement in the introduction that Jesus is Son of God. Apart from identificatibn we can assume that it was important for Christian theology before Mark to associate Jesus in some way with Christian bap- ii Built in 1825 for Noon Day Stage Coach Stop & Trading Post OFFICIALLY RECOGNIZED AS THE OLDEST RESTAURANT IN INDIANA 12 MILES NORTH OF EVANSVILLE 1 MILE EAST OF US 41 ON OLD STATE ROAD o, ORIGINAL ! [T J.00t LoG I I,/ | STAGE I Dine in the Original Log Room that Abraham Lincoln was in -in November 1844 DINNERS SERVED by Ale Carte Menu or FAMILY STYLE for 4 or More Draught Beer- Wine - Cocktails DINING ROOM SEATING 500 Serxdng Dinner from 4 to 10:30 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday Closed Sunday and Monday Evansville Telephone 867-3216 GENE andRITA ELPERS, Proprietors . ;: ''[" r tism. Theology affirmed that Christian baptism be- stowed the Holy Spirit. Thus John is stating Chris- tian theology when he says: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." Now the one who bestows the Spirit should also be seen as having that same Spirit. The baptismal scene furnishes the relation- ship between Jesus and the H01y Spirit. The Sp!rit descends upon Jesus as a dove as Jesus comes ip out of the water. It was also important that the one into whose name Christians were baptized should himself have undergone baptism. An Old Testament parallel can be seen in the attempt to relate b.oth Abraham and Moses to the practice of circumci- ston. What was asked of the children of Abraham and the followers of Moses had to also be ex- perienced by Abraham and Moses. St. Paul even speaks of Jews being "baptized into Moses," akin to his expression of being baptized into Christ. The celebration of the Baptism of Our Lord reminds us of our own baptism. Like Jesus we re- ceived the Holy Spirit. As Jesus was shown to be Son of God by the voice at baptism, so our baptism makes us children of God. At the impulse of the Spirit Jesus is then driven into the wilderness of temptation. We face that same wilderness daily. Confidence in having received the Spirit in bap- tism will help us to overcome the wilderness as Jesus did. Other readings for Sunday, January 13, 1991: Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38. Bishops: 'No proof' found at Medjugorje By JOHN THAVIS "On the basis of research which the authority of Mary's Catholic News Service conducted so far, one cannot af- "messages" has been asserted firm that supernatural appari- ROME (CNS)- Yugoslavian tions or revelation are in- bishops said after several years volved," the statement said. of study there is no proof that The continual flow of Marian apparitions have oc- pilgrims to Medjugorje from curred at Medjugorje. various parts of the world, At the same time, the bishops however, requires "the atten- encouraged better pastoral and tion and care of the bishops," it liturgical services for the said. pilgrims who travel to the The statement suggested that popular site in western the bishops' conference work Yugoslavia. They said this with the local bishop to set up would help visitors avoid prac- pastoral and liturgical pro- tices that are "not in agreement grams for the pilgrims, who with the spirit of the church." make the trip "motivated by Their statement was drawn faith." up at a meeting of Yugoslavian In this way, it said, "bishops in November and pass- "phenomena and contents that ed on to the Vatican for review, are not in agreement with the It was not made public by the spirit of the church" can be bishops or the Vatican, but the avoided. Italian Catholic news agency A Yugoslavian bishop, who ASCA published its translation asked not to be named, said the of the communique Jan. 2. The statement reflected the view contents were confirmed to that, whatever the church's Catholic News Service by .final judgment on Medjugorje, church sources in Yugoslavia. it is recognized that visitors The sources said the state- will continue to arrive there ment was approved in a nearly and need closer pastoral unanimous vote, with 19 guidance. bishops in favor and one ab- "It's almost impossible to staining, stop the pilgrimages, but we A Vatican doctrinal official need to take care of these peo- said the statement sounded a pie," hesaid. clear note of caution to Bishop Pavao Zanic of Catholics, but added that it was Mostar-Duvno, the diocese that not a "definitive" pronounce- includes Medjugorje, has been ment on the subject. Such a pro- one of the strongest critics of nouncement, if it is made, will events there. He said long ago probably take years, another he did not believe the appari- Vatican official said. tions were authentic, and he de- In the statement drawn up nounced the way local Fran- Nov. 27-28, the bishops re- ciscanpriests guided the young callod that the alleged appari- "visionaries" and promoted tions, which began in 1981, Medjugorje as a place of have been the focus of studies at pilgrimage. the diocesan and national level Bishop Zanic has said he is for several years, especially upset by the way in against his own episcopal authority. A Vatican doctrinal official, who asked not to be identified, said the bishops' cautionary statement against defining the apparitions as supernatural should be accepted by the faithful around the world. "1"he meaning is clear. The bishops have reached this con- (:lusion at this point in time, ,ased on the research per- Iormed," he said. But he added that the state- ment was not meant to be a definitive judgment on Med- jugorje. The bishops and the Vatican will no doubt continue to look at new evidence con- nected with the events, he said. The alleged apparitions at Mediugorje are said to be conti- nuing today, This has presented problems for.Vatican and other officials ch/rged with investigating the claims and made it likely that a final Judg- ment will take years. A leading Mariologist and one of the chief supporters of the alleged apparitions, Father Rene Laurentin, said the bishops' statement did not rule out an eventual upernatural judgment on Medjugorje. The statement does not specifically "exclude" a super- natural cause of the events there, but merely says such a judgment cannot be positively given, Father 1,aurentin said in a commentary published by the Italian newspaper Avvenire Jan. 3.