The Baptism of the Lord is the First Rosary Mystery of Light. The Apostolic Letter, Rosarium  mentions see Matthew 3:17, but Matthew belongs to Cycle A.

 

The first word for this liturgy is spirit. The second word is vocation.

 

The spirit of the Sunday is Vocation Sunday. Contemplating the vocation of Christ, the Faithful can locate their own vocations in the cacophony of modern living.

 

Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7

 

Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., points out that the first three Servant Songs, of which this is the first, use a lament and call narrative.[1] Although I am unsure what Stuhlmueller means, I can vision the song, the leader singing the lines with margins to the left, the Faithful singing the indented lines. If the Faithful had the words, this First Reading might be offered in the antiphon style between leader and Faithful.

 

The Servant Songs are Isaiah (1) 42:1-4; (2) 49:1-4 + 5c; (3) 40:4-9a; and (4) 52:13-53:12. Deutero-Isaiah develops his theology, until, in the fourth of the Servant Songs, salvation becomes a universal opportunity.[2]

 

Deutero-Isaiah was opinionated, preferring the northern tribes to Judea, addressing himself only to the Jews, not liking the Gentiles at all.[3] With all of his prejudices, Deutero Isaiah left room for the final incorporation of all peoples into the sacred promises.[4]

 

Verse 5, unlisted in the Lectionary reference on page 122, is the first line of the Lectionary, Thus says the LORD. This undocumented movement of verses causes me to wonder about the academic rigidity, integrity, and honesty underlying the total presentation.

 

verse 5           Thus says the LORD…:

 

Moving verse 5 as if verse 5 were part of verse 1 is tricky and possibly misleading. In the Servant Songs, Deutero-Isaiah speaks in his own name, without mediation.[5] The Lectionary mediates the Song with, thus says the LORD.

 

verse 1[6]          Here is my servant whom I uphold,

                                    my chosen one with whom I am pleased,

                        upon whom I have put my spirit;

                                    he shall bring forth justice to the nations.

 

This is one of the suffering servant hymns. Deutero-Isaiah develops the idea of the Messiah who serves rather than reigns.

 

The ancient belief was that the king represented the people, in this case, the people, Israel, before God. Placing this verse in the context of how it is used in Matthew 8:17, the Faithful can see that the Christ is both the servant of God and the representative of the Faithful. The Septuagint inserts Israel in this verse,[7] though neither the Hebrew Masoretic Text nor the Vulgate does. The Septuagint is the original Greek translation of the Masoretic Bible, first done and completed in the century between 250 and 150 B.C. Final revisions were made by the mid-Third Century, A.D. For the Latin Church, the Vulgate replaced the Septuagint. The Vulgate was completed about 405 A.D. by a disciple of Jerome.[8]

 

Mentioning the Spirit legitimates the vocation of the Messiah that is to serve by bringing just order in society, to the nations.[9] This will be a new creation, a new cosmogony, cut from a whole cloth in ancient thinking.

 

Serving includes thinking through the Gospel and presenting the Gospel without sounding simply silly. At the beginning of the 2002 Midnight Mass Christmas liturgy at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, Monsignor McCarran sang of the creation 5999 years ago. That at least is how I remember his song. According to modern standards, Monsignor sounded simply silly, as he welcomed Faithful college students back to his church. Had the Monsignor explained that he meant creation in the ancient Biblical sense that creation is a result of conflict between the forces of good and evil, with society and all else created together, he might have appeared less silly. Bette suggests that the Monsignor was referring to the Jewish calendar, something the Jews themselves rarely use.

 

The Nova Vulgata[10], also sometimes referred to in these Personal Notes as St. Jerome or the Latin, uses gentibus, the root word for Gentiles, for nations. While Isaiah is implicitly open to the idea of serving the Gentiles, explicitly he would prefer to have nothing to do with the Gentiles.

 

verse 3           A bruised reed he shall not break,

                                    and a smoldering wick he shall not quench

 

At this point, the Latin has in veritatem proferet judicium, which the New Jerusalem[11] translates as Faithfully he presents fair judgement [sic]; but the Douay-Rheims[12] translates as he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. The truth versus politics aspects of the spiritual life is something I regard as almost the essence of sanctity. Veritatem in the Latin is truth, a word I think should always be translated within the context of surrounding political pressures. Seeking the truth within a context of countervailing political pressures is a service of education and of the educated.

 

Verse 5 is missing from the Lectionary references, but is translated Thus says the LORD, just before verse 1. The Latin for verse 5a has Haec dicit Dominus Deus, that the New Jerusalem translates as Thus says God, Yahweh and Douay-Rheims, Thus saith the Lord God

 

verse 4           until he establishes justice on the earth;

                                    the coastlands will wait for his teaching.

 

The coastlands waiting means that the Messiah is available for Gentiles as well as Israel.[13]

 

According to the Latin, verse 4 is incomplete.

 

Douay-Rheims translates the complete verses 3-4 as follows:

 

            3 The bruised reed he shall not break, and smoking flax he shall not quench: he shall bring forth judgment into truth.

 

            4. He shall not be sad, nor troublesome, till he set judgment in the earth: and the islands shall wait for his law.

 

Douay-Rheims puts some punch into the gentle Messiah. There will be a time when the Messiah will be sad and troublesome.

 

verse 6           I the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,

                                    I have grasped you by the hand;

                        I formed you, and set you

                                    as a covenant of the people,

                                    a light for the nations

 

People would be Israel, thereby giving an individual cast to the suffering servant. Jesus stands with and for Israel, doing God’s work by bringing justice to the Gentiles.[14]

 

Verses 5 and 6 introduce Israel as a people-covenant and as a light to the nations.[15] Here is Second-Isaiah in exile, prophesying about the Chosen People having leadership among all nations. This prophecy exhibits the spirit of God, the spirit of the vocation of Jesus at his Baptism, the spirit of the Faithful as we wend our ways through our lives.

 

God forming Israel is part of the ancient Hebrew cosmogony. Creation, formation, commission, and call or vocation are all of the same stripe.[16]

 

There is timelessness in the Servant Songs, Songs developed within the constructs of the exile, but extended to a future without time. Just as such a future is appropriate to the vocation of Jesus, so is such a future appropriate to the vocations of the Faithful in Jesus.

 

Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 Rx (11b)

 

verse 9           The God of glory thunders,

                                    and in his temple all say, “Glory!”

 

The Latin for this verse only uses the word gloriam one time. I wonder about political pressures behind the translation. Saint Jerome has:

 

                        Vox Domini properantis partum cervarum,

                        et denudabit condensa;

                        et in templo eius omnes dicent gloriam.

 

New Jerusalem

 

                        Yahweh’s voice convulses terebinths,

                        strips forests bare.

 

                        In his palace all cry, glory!’

 

Even with the footnote in New Jerusalem, I am unable to figure out what terebinth means.

 

Douay-Rheims, Psalm 28

 

                        The voice of the Lord prepareth the stags: and he will discover the thick woods: and in his temple all shall speak his glory.

 

It looks to me as if the Lectionary is avoiding the sexuality of the first part of verse 9, something of political significance in these days of Cardinals apologizing for their roles enabling sexual abuse.

 

Acts 10:34-38

 

verse 34a       Peter proceeded to speak to those gathered

 

I laughed when I read the Latin, Aperiens autem Petrus os dixit, that I translated to myself, Opening his mouth, again, Peter said. New Jerusalem has Then Peter addressed them; Douay-Rheims, But Peter began, and said; King James,[17] Then Peter opened his mouth, and said; The Jerusalem Bible,[18] Then Peter addressed them.

 

verse 35         Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly

is acceptable to him.

 

For nation the Latin, again, has gente, the root word for Gentile. The vocation of Jesus is not only to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles and all humanity.

 

verse 36         You know the word that he sent to the Israelites

                                    as he proclaimed peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all,

 

verse 37                     what has happened all over Judea,

                                    beginning in Galilee after the baptism

                                    that John preached

 

The Latin has you know at the very beginning of verse 37, not in verse 36. Again, I wonder about the discrepancy.

 

Douay-Rheims

 

            He sent his word to the children of Israel, preaching peace though Jesus Christ (who is Lord of all).

 

            You know what took place throughout Judea; for he began in Galilee after the baptism preached by John.

 

That you know transfers the vocation of Jesus to the vocation of the Faithful.

 

 

cf. Mark 9:7

 

No comment.

 

Mark 1:7-11

 

Mark 1:1-13 is a prologue to the rest of the Gospel. The rest of the Gospel is about the vocation of discipleship, for which these verses prepare.[19]

 

verse 8           I have baptized you with water;

                                    he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

 

verse 10         On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being turn open

                                    and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.

 

The evangelists do not seem to agree just when the spirit descended. In the Lectionary, on the facing page[20], Luke 3:21-22 has

 

                        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.

 

or:

there is another set of readings. I am unable to decipher which will be used.

 

The antiphon scheduled for use at the Bethlehem Monastery of Poor Clares in Newport News, Virginia is You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation. This antiphon is from the second choice of readings, readings B, the readings that follow. Since this antiphon was unavailable to the Faithful until my preparation was well underway and since sometimes the antiphon anticipated is not the antiphon used, both sets of readings remain in these Personal Notes.

 

Isaiah 55:1-11

 

Deutero-Isaiah wrote Isaiah 49-55 after the fall of Babylon and the initial return. Deutero-Isaiah wrote these chapters still in Babylon.[21]

 

verse 3           Come to me heedfully

 

The Latin has bend your ear, that Douay-Rheims translates as incline your ear. Often the Poor Clare Sisters use an antiphon about bending their ear. The Lectionary also omits the first word of verse 1, in the Latin Heu! that I would transliterate, “Hey you!” A scholar would translate the term as “Ho!,” an attention-getting cry,[22] something with which the Lectionary does not bother.

 

verse 5           so shall you summon a nation you knew not,

                                    and nations that knew you not shall run to you.

 

These nations are gentes.

 

Vocation is a commitment into the unknown of the future, trusting in the spirit of God.

 

verse 7           Let the scoundrel forsake his way,

                                    and the wicked man this thoughts

 

Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6 Rx (3)

 

verse 6           Shout with exultation, O city of Zion

 

Zion has many meanings that include the people as well as the city, the mountain, the temple, and the entire land. In First Isaiah, Zion is the inviolable place where the Lord dwells. In Second Isaiah, Zion is the poetic name of a ruined town, the goal of a new exodus. Third Isaiah represents Zion as a future place for transforming judgment.[23]  The readings from Isaiah for The Baptism of the Lord are all from Second Isaiah. There is reason to shout with exultation at being called by God to a vocation in his holy life.

 

1 John 5:1-9

 

verse 1           Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,

                                    and everyone who loves the father

                                    loves also the one begotten by him.

 

There is movement here from Christ to God to the vocations of the Faithful.[24]

 

verse 3           For the love of God is this,

                                    that we keep his commandments.

 

Saint Jerome uses caritas, love in a non-erotic sense. This means that we treat one another with loving-kindness, gentleness, in our interpersonal relations. It also means speaking up when others are being dumped upon and we know better. At Midnight Mass, the Monsignor preached about speaking up in our vocations, when we know better.

 

verse 6b-8      The Spirit is the one who testifies,

and the Spirit is truth.

                        So there are three that testify,

                                    the Spirit, the water, and the blood,

                                    and the three are of one accord.

 

cf. John 1:29

 

no comment

 

Mark 1:7-11

 

See above.

 

The spirit is the spirit of salvation, salvation from sin, salvation for eternal love in the love of God. This liturgy is the beginning of the vocation of Jesus. In a very real sense, this is Vocation Sunday. Vocation is not simply the pay, pray, and obey order of an arrogant hierarchy. Vocation is also thinking, searching for the truth, commitment to the truth as one finds truth, and, then, speaking out. Vocation is about faithfulness to conscience, a faithfulness for which many pay a terrible price, the reward for which is the Prince of Peace.



[1] Even though Stuhlmueller presented this research as President of the Catholic Biblical Association, his name is misspelled, without the first “l,” on the cover of the journal. The name is properly spelled on the inside. Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., “Deutero-Isaiah: Major Transitions in the Prophet’s Theology and in Contemporary Scholarship," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (January 1980) 5.

 

[2] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., Deutero-Isaiah: Major Transitions in the Prophet’s Theology and in Contemporary Scholarship," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (January 1980), page 23.

 

[3] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., “Deutero-Isaiah: Major Transitions in the Prophet’s Theology and in Contemporary Scholarship," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (January 1980), page 25.

 

[4] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., “Deutero-Isaiah: Major Transitions in the Prophet’s Theology and in Contemporary Scholarship," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (January 1980), page 21.

 

[5] Ernst Vogt, “Die Ebed-Jahweh-Lieder und ihre Erganzungen,” Est Bib 34 (1960) 882-3, as later modified in Isaias 40-55, Textus Selecti, argumentum ex vaticiniis. Cyrus Israel et Servus Domini (Romae: 1966), as cited and translated in Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., “Deutero-Isaiah: Major Transitions in the Prophet’s Theology and in Contemporary Scholarship," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (January 1980), page 24.

 

[6] All quotations, indented in this manner are from National Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Roman Missal Restored by Decree of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican and Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Lectionary for Mass: For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America: Second Typical Edition: Volume I: Sundays, Solemnities, Feasts of the Lord and Saints (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998).

 

[7]Jeffrey A. Gibbs, “Israel Standing with Israel: The Baptism of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt 3:13-17)," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 3 (July 2002) 523.

 

[8] The HarperCollins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, Richard P. McBrien, general editor (New York: HarperSanFrancisco: A Division of HarperCollins Publishers, 1995), pages 1083-1084 and 1320.

 

[9] Richard J. Sklba, “`Until the Spirit from on High Is Poured out on Us’ (Isa 32:15): Reflections on the Role of the Spirit in the Exile," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 46, No. 1 (January 1984) 14.

 

[10] Nova Vulgata: Bibliorum Sacrorum Editio: Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II ratione habita Iussu Pauli PP, VI Recognita Auctoritate Joannis Pauli PP, II Promulgata Editio Typica Altera (00120 Citta Del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1979, 1986, 1998) ISBN 88-2209-2163-4

 

[11] Henry Wansbrough, General Editor, The New Jerusalem Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1985).

 

[12] The Holy Bible: Translated from the Latin Vulgate with Annotations, References, and an Historical and Chronological Table: The Douay Version of The Old Testament, First published by the English College at Douay, A.D. 1609: The Confraternity Edition of The New Testament: A Revision of the Challoner-Rheims Version Edited by Catholic Scholars under the Patronage of the Episcopal Committee of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (New York: P. J. Kennedy & Sons, 1950).

 

[13] Jeffrey A. Gibbs, “Israel Standing with Israel: The Baptism of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt 3:13-17)”, the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 3 (July 2002), page 524.

 

[14] Jeffrey A. Gibbs, “Israel Standing with Israel: The Baptism of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt 3:13-17)," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 3 (July 2002), page 523.

 

[15] Adrian M. Leske, “Context and Meaning of Zechariah 9:9," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 62, No. 4 (October 2000), pages 666, 675.

 

[16] Richard J. Clifford, S.J., “The Unity of the Book of Isaiah and Its Cosmogonic Language," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 (January 1993 ), page 6.

 

[17] General Editor, The Reverend Cain Hope Felder, Ph.D., The Original African Heritage Study Bible: King James Version (Nashville: The James C. Winston Publishing Company, 1993)

 

[18] Alexander Jones, General Editor, The Jerusalem Bible: Reader’s Edition (Garden City, New York: Double Day * Company, Inc., 1968).

 

[19] Francis J. Moloney, S.D.B., “Mark 6:6b-30: Mission, the Baptist, and Failure," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 63, No. 4 (October 2001) 647.

 

[20] National Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Roman Missal Restored by Decree of the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican and Promulgated by Authority of Pope Paul VI: Lectionary for Mass: For Use in the Dioceses of the United States of America: Second Typical Edition: Volume I: Sundays, Solemnities, Feasts of the Lord and Saints (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1998), page 127.

 

[21] Carroll Stuhlmueller, C.P., “Deutero-Isaiah: Major Transitions in the Prophet’s Theology and in Contemporary Scholarship," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 42, No. 1 (January 1980), page 5.

 

[22] Richard J. Clifford, S.J., “The Unity of the Book of Isaiah and Its Cosmogonic Language," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 (January 1993 ), page 15.

 

[23] Richard J. Clifford, S.J., “The Unity of the Book of Isaiah and Its Cosmogonic Language," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 1 (January 1993 ), pages 3, 9, 17.

 

[24] Urban C. Von Wahlde, “The Stereotyped Structure and the Puzzling Pronouns of 1 John 2:28—3:10," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 2 (April 2002), page 320.