January 6th – Christmas

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January 6th – Christmas

Readings: 1 Jn 5:5-6, 8-13; Mk 1:6b-11.

Reading 1: (1 Jn 5:5-6, 8-13):

Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and Blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and Blood.
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.
If we accept human testimony,
the testimony of God is surely greater.
Now the testimony of God is this,
that he has testified on behalf of his Son.
Whoever believes in the Son of God
has this testimony within himself.
Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar
by not believing the testimony God has given about his Son.
And this is the testimony:
God gave us eternal life,
and this life is in his Son.
Whoever possesses the Son has life;
whoever does not possess the Son of God does not have life.

I write these things to you so that you may know
that you have eternal life,
you who believe in the name of the Son of God.

Gospel (Mk 1:6b-11):

This is what John the Baptist proclaimed:
“One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee
and was baptized in the Jordan by John.
On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open
and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

I. THEME: Christ has enough witnesses for people to believe in him.             

            In order to believe, people need to have proof. One of the ways people used to believe is through two witnesses because people didn’t have a chance to see the truth, what was happening.

            Today readings center on the witnesses of Christ. All certified that Christ is the Messiah, sent by God to redeem people from their sins. In the first reading, St. John listed out three witnesses for Christ; they were: the Holy Spirit, water (His Father’s witness) and Christ’s blood. In the Gospel, John Baptist was Christ’s witness for the presence of the Father and the Holy Spirit, because he witnessed these when he baptized Jesus in Jordan river.


1/ Reading I: There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree.

1.1/ Christ’s three witnesses: St. John wrote: “This is he who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood.  There are three witnesses, the Spirit, the water, and the blood; and these three agree.” To understand this passage, we need to read a passage in the Fouth Gospel, and to understand the historical background of St. John’s time. The passage which mentioned both water and blood is: “But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.  He who saw it has borne witness — his testimony is true, and he knows that he tells the truth — that you also may believe” (Jn 19:34-35). Water and blood related to two important events in Jesus’ life: water when he was baptized by John Baptist in Jordan river; and blood when he was crucified on Golgotha.

            The reason St. John emphasized on both “water and blood” is because there existed the heresy called “Gnosticism.” Cerinthus, the representative of this heresy, believed Christ is the Son of God when he was baptized in water. The Holy Spirit descended and remained with Christ, and made him to be the Son of God. He didn’t accept blood because he believed God can’t suffer. He explained, on Golgotha, the Holy Spirit came out of Christ and went up to heaven. There was someone who said the crucified one was Simeon, not Christ. St. John wanted to oppose this heresy by emphasizing that all three witnesses are necessary to believe Christ was sent by God to redeem people from sins.

            (1) The Holy Spirit: descended and anointed Christ when he was baptized in Jordan (Mk 1:9-11, Mt 3:16-17, Lk 3:21, Jn 1:32-34, Acts 10:38). This baptism is completely different with John Baptist’s baptism (Mk 1:8, Mt 3:11, Lk 3:16, Acts 1:5, 2:33).

            (2) Water: In the event of Jesus’ Baptism, John Baptist witnessed for Christ as follows: “I saw the Spirit descend as a dove from heaven, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him; but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, `He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God” (Jn 1:32-34).

            (3) Blood: According to the Old Testament’s sacrificial system, the blood of animals must be poured out in order for people’s sins to be forgiven. In the New Testament, Christ is the Lamb of God; he wiped out people’s sins by his own sacrifice on the cross. Moreover, Christ also established the sacrament of Eucharist in the Last Supper to perpertuate his sacrifice for people. We daily celebrate this event through the Mass, in order to memorize what Christ has done for us and to receive Christ’s grace for our daily life.

1.2/ We must believe in the words of witnesses that Christ was sent from God.

            (1) God’s witness is much important than human witness: The Law taught when there are two or three witnesses, their proof is true. Christ had many witnesses: John Baptist, all miracles he performed, the Scripture and his apostles; but the witness of his Father through the voice sounded from heaven: “This is my beloved son!” and the witness of the Holy Spirit through the image of a dove descended and remained in Christ, are two most important witnesses. Human beings must receive these witnesses and believed in Christ; because: “He who does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne to his Son.”

            (2) Believing in Christ is the condition to have the eternal life: St. John stated: “He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life. I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

2/ Gospel: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.”

2.1/ The difference between Christ’s baptism and John Baptist’s baptism: John Baptist himself explained the difference: “I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” John Baptist’s baptism was done by men to bring one to repentance; not even for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ Baptism was done by God, who is much more powerful than men. The one who received this baptism shall be anointed by the Holy Spirit and receive his seven gifts which are necessary for people.

2.2/ Christ’s Baptism: According to St. Mark’s report, there are three important facts we need to discuss:

            (1) Why did Jesus receive baptism by John Baptist? John Baptist’s baptism is for the repentance of sins; why did Jesus, who never commits sin, want to be baptized by John? Even John himself prevented Jesus: ““I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for thus it is fitting for us to fulfil all righteousness.” Then he consented” (Mt 3:14-15). St. Ambrose gave us another reason: Christ, the most holy one, received baptism to sanctify water of Jordan river. The Church uses this water to baptize the faithful.

            (2) The Holy Spirit’s image of a dove: Jewish tradition uses the image of a dove for the meekness, as the prophet Isaiah described the Suffering Servant. He wins over people, not by threatened words nor by force; but by his love and patience. Christ was anointed by the Holy Spirit to begin his public mission.

            (3) The Father’s voice from heaven: Mark’s report of the Father’s voice was directly to the Son: “Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.” The Father directly said to His Son and expressed His pleasing of what the Son has done. Matthew’s report was directed to people as: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17). If one studied carefully, one shall see Mark’s report is closer with Isaiah than Matthew’s.


III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                     

            – God doesn’t leave our faith in darkness; He provided us with all necessary witnesses so that we can believe in Christ.

            – When we already believe in Christ, we have duty to help all people to also believe in Christ through our life of witness.

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