Preparing for Mass of the Baptism of the Lord

There is such a contrast between how quietly and simply Matthew describes the event at the Jordan and the language used in the psalm to describe the work of God.

Matthew perhaps wishes to downplay the Baptism, or at least the role John plays in the baptism of Jesus – thus the discussion between Jesus and John as to who should baptise who. But even so there is something rather laconic and prosaic about his account of the theophanies in the form of dove and voice from heaven.

The psalmist, in contrast, does not hold back!

And why? Perhaps because the psalm originates in Temple worship which as well as honouring the God of Israel supports the the role of Israel’s earthly king. But also because of what this means to us – the last words of the psalm assure us:

The Lord will give strength to his people,
      the Lord will bless his people with peace.

This power, the splendour is there for us, God’s chosen, God’s blessed.

Psalm 28(29):1-4,9-10

1     A Psalm of David.

      Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly powers,
      ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2     Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name;
      bow down before the Lord, majestic in holiness.

3     The voice of the Lord upon the waters,
      the God of glory thunders;
      the Lord on the immensity of waters;
4     the voice of the Lord full of power;
      the voice of the Lord full of splendour.

5     The voice of the Lord shatters cedars,
      the Lord shatters the cedars of Lebanon;
6     he makes Lebanon leap like a calf,
      and Sirion like a young wild-ox.

7     The voice of the Lord flashes flames of fire.
8     The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness,
      the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh;
9     the voice of the Lord rends the oak tree
      and strips the forest bare.

      In his temple they all cry, “Glory!”

10   The Lord sat enthroned above the flood;
      the Lord sits as king forever.

11   The Lord will give strength to his people,
      the Lord will bless his people with peace.

Acknowledgements

  • Translation of Psalms: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.
  • Commentary: (c) 2019, Allen Morris
  • Photo (c) 2017, Allen Morris. Traherne window I (Tom Denny), Hereford Cathedral

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