BaptA20. Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7. “Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit.” God chooses and sends one at various times to serve his Will putting his divine pleasure and spirit in him. It is God himself working in and through his servant. Jesus said in Matthew 10:40, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” “I formed you,” as “a light for the nations,” for “those who live in darkness.” We have celebrated the Epiphany in which the light that is the star leads the magi to the light of the world Jesus our Savior. We understand this first reading as a prophecy of the coming of Jesus.
Matthew 3:13-17. “After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Jesus, by having John the Baptist baptize him, was declaring that now he was taking over the role of John in leading the people to God. However more importantly, God the Father’s announcement and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus was the heavenly declaration that God in the person of Jesus had come into our midst as a man just like us. Jesus has now been formally presented to this world as the Christ, the Messiah.
Acts of the Apostles 10:34-38. From the Hebrew perspective just the Hebrews belonged to God likewise God belonged only to the Hebrews and so could not belong to any other peoples. The Hebrews viewed the gentiles as worthless, polluted, foul trash who had many ridiculous sham pseudo gods. They viewed themselves as a people, pure, clean, set apart from the debased and defiled. The Hebrews believed that they had the one and only true God. There was none other and he was theirs and theirs alone. From the Jews point of view Peter, a Jew, defiles himself by entering the home of a gentile. Peter’s response was, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” He is not Lord of just the Jews but the Lord of all. God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power” to bring God’s goodness to all. “God shows no partiality.” This was a truly momentous time in the development of Christianity because there were many who saw Christians as just another Jewish sect. Now Christianity, though rooted in Judaism, was to be taken as something entirely new, based in a God that is Trinitarian, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, which was never a Jewish belief.