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“The Baptism of Jesus”
Source: Mark, Chapter 1:9-11″The Baptism of Jesus” USCCB.org.
“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.’”
Learning through Storytelling
The two stories of “The Baptism of Jesus” and “The Temptation of Jesus in the Wilderness ” are among my favorite children’s Bible stories. John the Baptist is the cousin of Jesus. He is wandering through the wilderness telling everyone about the Kingdom of God and telling them to “repent.” Repent means to give up the bad things people were doing, and to be baptized for the forgiveness of sins. John the Baptist is also a messenger–it’s his job to pave the way for Christ, the Messiah. “I am baptizing you with water, ” he said, “But someone else will come after me who will baptize you with God’s love.” Source: The Baptism of Jesus by Katherine Sully Illustrated by Simona SanFilippo, page 6. Imagine John’s surprise when Jesus comes down to the River Jordan to be baptized among the people of Galilee. Jesus says to John, “I have come to the river today, because this is the right way.” So John baptizes Jesus in the River Jordan.” What do you think you’d feel and think, if you had been there and had seen the Holy Spirit come down in the form of a dove? Imagine hearing God’s voice say, “This is my son, whom I love.” The Baptism of Jesus page 8.
After Jesus is baptized, he leaves the area around Galilee and goes into the wilderness for forty days and forty nights. This is where we now need to remember that although Jesus is “Fully Human” he is also “Fully Divine.” This means that Jesus is God, the Son. Can you guess who might want to trick or tempt Jesus? Hint: Remember the serpent in Adam and Eve? Who really was the serpent? That’s right…it was Satan. Satan is the name Jesus calls the devil. Satan suddenly appears when Jesus is very weak and hungry from a long fast. A “fast” is a time when a person doesn’t eat and sometimes doesn’t drink, too. He offers Jesus three bad temptations–#1 “Turn the stones into bread.” #2 “Throw yourself off this tower for the angels to catch you.” #3 “Worship me not God.” Jesus beats Satan on all the temptations and says to Satan, “No! Go away! We should worship only God.” page 15. Then angels come to take Jesus away and care for him.
Parents, please help your children understand the meanings of the highlighted words.
If you haven’t read this story, you will love reading it, in the Bible, or a Catholic children’s Bible, I’m sure.
Learning Through Reading
“The Baptism of Christ” and the connected story, “The Temptation in the Desert” begin the Gospel of Christ’s life as an adult and his life preaching. “The Baptism of Christ” is the first of the “Luminous Mysteries” for the Rosary. We are introduced to John the Baptist in the first story, and to “Satan” in the second. As you can see, both stories are profoundly important. Here are some different books for the story to read with children. I am listing the ones for younger children first, followed by two which are more complex for older children to enjoy, then the Didache Bible for the family to share. The Catholic Bible for Children does not contain “The Temptation in the Wilderness.”
Learning Through Writing–The Sacraments
Baptism is a sacrament. “A Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace.” Grace is a gift from God and helps us have a share in God’s life. There are Seven Sacraments–Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders, and Matrimony. Children preparing for First Holy Communion have already received the Sacrament of Baptism and are now preparing for First Reconciliation, with First Eucharist in the spring. I was touched when a child in a previous class had received the Sacrament of Anointing the Sick and had recovered wonderfully.
Our Art Project
This is a simple way to depict the “Baptism of Christ” through art for young children. I used a small piece of watercolor paper, and watercolor pastel crayons to draw the scene. Then I smudged the pastel drawing with my finger, Next, I used watercolors over the drawing. It is a fun and fast technique. Feel free to use any art supplies you have at home. Crayons and paper would be fine, too.
Week Twenty-One–Suggested Homework Activities
For children preparing for First Holy Communion, I suggest reading the Apostles’ Creed. Begin by reading it aloud in its entirety. Next, begin to read it through one stanza at a time. This is a parent child activity because it has so much significant content. Break it down, a line or two, to help your child understand each group of lines (stanzas). Teach the difficult words for your child and begin with defining the words “creed” and “Apostles.”