Light of the Nations

John the Baptist was a powerful and challenging preacher – a prophet like the prophets of the Old Testament. He called the people to repent of their sins and receive baptism in the River Jordan – the same river that the people of Israel crossed when they entered the Promised Land. But when Jesus came for baptism, John demurred, knowing that Jesus had no need to repent and no sins to be forgiven. Jesus replied, ‘Let us do all that righteousness demands.’ Jesus would teach the people a new understanding of ‘righteousness.’ For disciples of Christ, to be righteous means to accept God’s love and mercy, symbolised by the water of baptism; to know ourselves to be forgiven sinners; to live the commandments of love of God and love of neighbour. Anyone who lives righteousness in this way, Peter says, is acceptable to God. Jesus’ mission is prefigured in Isaiah’s prophecy of God’s servant, who brings true justice to the nations. On the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we celebrate the beginning of Jesus’ mission to reveal God’s mercy to all the nations of the world.

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