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Primacy of Faith in Jesus

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

We are drawing close to the end of the Christmas Season. This means that we are also drawing close to the end of the First Letter of St. John which has been used as the first reading for our Eucharistic Liturgy ever since December 29. On Sunday we will celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of Christ. This event figures prominently in the passage we read today from St. John as he speaks of the three-fold testimony which we have regarding Jesus. St. John speaks of the testimony of the Spirit, the water and the blood.

You will remember that on the occasion of Jesus' baptism, a voice was heard proclaiming that Jesus was "my beloved Son." St. Luke tells us that on this occasion the Spirit came upon Jesus in bodily form, the form of a dove. So it was on this occasion that we received the testimony of both the Spirit and the water. The testimony of the blood will come when Jesus dies upon the cross.

The separatists or secessionists in St. John's community had been teaching that Jesus was only human from the time of his baptism until the time of his crucifixion. They held that the divine nature of Jesus did not need to be baptized and that his divine nature could not die. Consequently Jesus' humanity began when he was baptized and ended when he died on the cross. This essentially denies the fact of the Incarnation, the mystery of the dual nature of Jesus, God made flesh at the time of his conception. Using their own argument, St. John points out to the secessionists that rather than denying Christ's divinity, his baptism and his death testify to the fact that God has loved us so much that God became one of us,

Once again, St. John accentuates the primacy of faith in Jesus. Those who believe are those who will join Jesus in his victory over the world.

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