Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).
Mark 1: 7-11
This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
It is in the Sacrament of Baptism that (most of) our parents renounced satan on our behalf for the first time. How do we live out our baptismal promises? Do we renounce satan daily? Do we pray for the strength to overcome temptation?
I am deeply saddened to think of the number of Baptized Catholics who are not trying to live out their baptismal promises, who have stained the purity of their Baptism and have not sought forgiveness for these sins for whatever reason. We all have family members, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances who have walked away from their Baptism and turned their backs on God through sin.
Sin separates us from God and allows the power of the evil one to enter our lives, but God sent Jesus, His Son, to save us in our Baptism and through the Cross. Our daily living of our baptismal promises should banish sin from our lives over and over again. We seek forgiveness, but we will fall again, probably in the same way. Only by turning back to God repeatedly will we train our wills to the good and become holy. All of us can make the choice to resist satan and try again, and each time we make that choice is pleasing to our Lord!
The power of the Cross is tremendous to bring us healing and strength to overcome future temptation! Turn to the Cross. Whatever suffering small or great there is in your life, bring it to the foot of the Cross. Surrender it to Jesus. Offer that pain to God for your past sins, your future sins, and the sins of others, perhaps for the sins of priests who are so viciously attacked by satan because of their role in preparing the way of the Lord like John the Baptist. Consider imposing some small self-mortification, as well, and offer that for the violations of the promises of Baptism in us all.
None of us is worthy of the repeated forgiveness God grants to us, but His mercy is so profound that He will forgive us over and over again if we appeal to Him with a sincere heart and a desire to change. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can help with this, as can a simple morning offering and evening examination of conscience. When Jesus was baptized, He knew all that would happen to Him, all He would suffer, and all of our sins He would expiate. And in the Jordan River, He made a public statement that He would conquer Satan, that only His divine life and tragic death could destroy the power of evil. See Him on the Cross; He waits there for all sinners, for you and for me, to wash us clean again in His Sacred Blood.