New American Bible (Philippines, USA)
Jerusalem Bible (Australia, England & Wales, Ireland, Scotland)
Gospel (New American Bible)
Lk 3:15-16, 21-22
The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
For me an astonishing thing is that Jesus lined up with sinners. Probably none of the others in the queue knew who he was. Here is God-made-Man, totally sinless, pure love. I remember last April there was consternation when it was discovered that Jacqueline Aquino Siapno, the Filipino wife of the president of the parliament of East Timor, flew with their 5-year-old son to Manila where she was met by her mother. They took a bus to her native Dagupan City, five hours away, and from the bus terminal there hailed a tricycle to take them to her parents' home. This was beyond the comprehension of the authorities in the Philippines. If we think about it, it should be all the more beyond our comprehension to imagine Jesus standing among a crowd of sinners letting others think he was a sinner too.
But he came to show us how much God loves us.
Two texts in the readings this week pointing towards the words of the Father. One was from the first reading last Tuesday: In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins (1 Jn 4:10). The other was the response in the responsorial psalm today, Saturday: The Lord takes delight in his people (Ps 149).
So often we see ourselves as having to earn God's love, when it is pure gift, pure grace, pure blessing. Most of us learned from our parents and teachers that we had to 'earn' love: we were often rewarded if 'good' and punished if 'bad'. Here in the Philippines many children learn that they are 'maldito' or 'maldita'. The online Merriam-Webster Spanish-English Dictionary defines those words as adjectives meaning 'cursed, damned, wicked'. They don't have that force in their Philippine usage, where they usually mean something like 'naughty'.