Meditations by Msgr. Liptak


Msgr. Liptakweekly gospel meditations



The Baptism of Jesus and Our Baptism

First Samuel 3:3-10, 19; First Corinthians 6:13-15, 17-20; John 1:35-42



Aim: (1) to explain what happened when we were baptized (specifically, our being personally called by God); (2) to present our baptism as a commitment for life to live in Christ and in grace.


That God calls us in the Spirit by name-provided that we try to listen to his voice and reflect upon his call in an effort to know him is a principal lesson of today's Bible readings.

The Old Testament story of the call of Samuel-perhaps one of the first Bible stories we read in our childhood -witnesses to this lesson in a beautiful, dramatic fashion. Today's Gospel, about Andrew's vocation, is in a sense even more beautiful and dramatic. In fact, the total message of today's Bible texts is encapsulated in the story of the Apostle Andrew. Focus on him for a few moments.

Andrew is recalled regularly in the Mass; in the Roman Canon his name occurs directly after that of Peter and Paul. The insertion, which dates perhaps from the fifth century, seems to have been occasioned by deference to the Eastern Church. Even today Andrew is one of the two patron saints of Russia.

Andrew, today's Gospel reminds us, was the first Apostle called by Christ. Moreover, he was the one responsible for bringing his brother Simon to Jesus. Simon of course became Peter; our Lord changed his name. Peter means "rock." Andrew said to Peter: "We have found the Messiah."

Andrew, we know, was a deeply religious person from early adulthood. As a youth, before Jesus' public preaching, Andrew had been a disciple of John the Baptizer; we know this because Andrew is mentioned among those in the company of the Baptizer's followers that historic day when St. John first glimpsed Jesus coming toward him near the Jordan and exclaimed in the Spirit: "Look there! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

Today's Gospel records Andrew's reaction to John's pointing out Jesus as the Lamb of God. Without delay he rushed up to our Lord and asked to speak to him--alone, in the home at which Christ was staying. Jesus granted the interview. All that Andrew needed was a few hours (it was four in the afternoon, the Gospel tells us) to make his total, permanent, and irrevocable commitment to discipleship.

Capernaum, Andrew's city, later became one of Jesus' favorite stops in his continuous journeying for souls. Doubtless one of the reasons was that it was Andrew's home.

In Andrew's story-- as well as in the Old Testament prophet Samuel's--we can see the genesis and anatomy of God's election, which comes to us through our baptism; and we are reminded of the only response that matters: commitment of life in Christ and in grace.

First, God's election follows upon sincere, humble curiosity; a holy curiositi, about the mystery of life and death, our identity and goals. Like Andrew, we must all put aside the distractions of this world and seek out an interview with Jesus, who lives as risen Lord in our midst.

Secondly, there is need for some hours of contemplation. We must try to remain open to the Spirit, to say with Samuel, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." (This requires turning off the television occasionally, and putting aside the daily newspaper.) Otherwise, God's personal call to us cannot be heard.

This means prayer, of course. No Christian can live without it. God's calling us by name and his speaking to us can be detected only if we occasionally halt our routine worldly pursuits to make contact with his living presence.

Following Andrew, therefore, with holy curiosity about Christ, and with personal prayer, we can keep hearing God's calling us, by virtue of our Baptism, and can-as St.  Paul puts it in today's Second Reading-bring our total persons, body and soul, under the Lordship of Christ.

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