Baptism of the Lord – First Sunday after the Epiphany – Year B

January 7 - 11

Gospel Lectionary Text

Mark 1:4-11

1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

1:6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1:7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.

1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

1:10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

1:11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."


We only hear the voice of God the Father four times in the New Testament. The first two instances, including our text for this week, his message is limited to these most elemental words, “You are my son whom I love, with you I am well pleased.” As James Alison explores in his book On Being Liked, a more grassrootsy but fully truthful translation is, “You are my son whom I love, and I really like you.”

Perhaps the greatest of all the miracles is not that God loves us, but that God actually likes us. When “love” matures into “like,” it is complete. When we know ourselves as liked by God, we come to see ourselves, this world, and even God’s love, in a whole new light! In a word, we relax and actually become likeable and capable of great love in return. When these words become flesh in our lives, we are transformed.


Is it possible that the conventional narrative of being "loved by God" has overshadowed, or even diluted, the radical idea that God genuinely likes you, with all your imperfections?


Take Lord and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and my entire will, all that I have and call my own. You have given all to me. To you Lord I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will. I ask only for your love and your grace. That is enough. See the complete prayer

Word from Below Reflections

Almost Drowning

I was baptized into an Evangelical church when I was seven years old and it was a terrible experience. My dad was the pastor of our church, so I was expected to be baptized. I went through the church’s discipleship program. I knew my creeds, prayers, and songs. And I had all the right answers…

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A New Year’s Rest-olution

John the Baptist appears in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins and we are told that the “whole” Judean countryside and “all” the people of Jerusalem went out to him. It seems John has become quite the successful, suburban mega-church pastor with a huge commuter congregation. But he is...

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Baptismal Blessing

We are familiar with the red-letter Bibles that highlight the words of Jesus. I’d like to see a blue letter edition that highlights the words of the Father. It wouldn’t take much ink. We only hear the voice of God the Father four times in the New Testament. In each case it is the voice...

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Understanding the Bible anew through the Mimetic Theory of René Girard.

Weekly Homily by James Alison