Isaiah 42:1-9/ Acts 10:34-43/ Matthew 3:13-17
God’s Children of Water and Light
Light and Water
As the first Sunday of Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord Sunday, today’s two motives are light and water. Let us think about these two. The function of light is to make things visible. When one is in the dark, one can more comfortably do bad things than when one is fully visible. That is why a lot of crimes are committed at night in isolated places. When we describe someone as light, that person has little darkness and evil to hide. What about water? Water’s important function is to wash dirty things. Water is also an essential life force. Water is life. We can see how water and light became religious metaphors and why we use expressions such as “wash away our sins” and “I am the light of the world.” Today, we celebrate these two.
Baptism of Jesus: God’s Beloved
As a Christian life usually begins with baptism, Jesus also started his public ministry with baptism. John offered baptism of repentance as an introduction to the new age of God’s faithful community that Jesus would bring. This community is the reign (or kingdom) of God. One important detail from today’s gospel story is that God called Jesus “my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” It teaches us that we become God’s beloved children when we get baptized and vow to live a Christian life. Being God’s children means that we are all equally loved and valued without discrimination.
Peter Learns a Lesson
Apostle Peter learned this lesson when he was called to baptize Cornelius and his family in Acts chapter 10. Right before he meets the messenger of Cornelius, who is very much a Gentile as a Roman, God shows Peter a vision of animals that are considered unclean according to the Jewish Law. God says, “Eat them,” and Peter replies, “I can’t eat unclean animals,” to which God concludes, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.”
God was teaching Peter that, unlike what he was taught as a Jew, all of us are equally accepted by God, Jewish or not. Peter was good enough to learn his lesson, change his mind about Gentiles, preached the Good News of Jesus to Cornelius and his family, and baptized them. Just like Peter, all God’s children are called to testify, with their words and actions, the love of God that does not discriminate.
God’s Children, Servants of Justice
We, as God’s children, are often called God’s servants. It is because, as God’s children, we have the duty to do our Heavenly Parent’s will, as well as enjoy our privilege as children. Isaiah mentions “servant of justice.” According to Isaiah chapter 42, God’s servant receives God’s spirit and brings forth justice to the nations. God, who created the heavens and the earth and gave breath to all people, calls us to be God’s servants of justice.
Let Us Be Light and Water
At the beginning of this new year, during this Season of Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord Sunday, let us renew our covenant with God. Let us renew our baptism vows and ask God to guide us with the Holy Spirit so that we may keep on living as God’s faithful servant of justice. Let us wash our souls with spiritual water and become God’s light shining on the darkness of the world. There is a lot of evil of injustice to defeat and God’s people to help, so, let us get to work.