Scripture Notes – Sunday 10th January 2021 – The Baptism of the Lord

You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.

Piero della Francesca: the Baptism of the Lord


In the ancient tradition, it was considered that there were three epiphanies of the Lord. The first is the obvious one, based on the visit of the Magi, celebrated on 6 January. The second is the baptism of the Lord — also a kind of epiphany, on the following Sunday. The third was the wedding feast at Cana.

This triple tradition is honoured in the lectionary and so, the Sunday after the Baptism is devoted to an epiphany scene from the Fourth Gospel. In year B, this is the story of the call of the first disciples in John 1:35-42. This, perhaps, helps explain why the reading of Mark — the Gospel for this year — is delayed until the third Sunday of the year.

The notes for the Epiphany are repeated for your convenience.

In the meantime, on next Sunday we mark the baptism of the Lord by John the Baptist. Mark’s version is vivid and compact. Even so, Mark shares with the other Gospels the need to “locate” John relative to Jesus in vv. 7-8. The Baptism itself is succinctly recounted in just three verses. The deep affirmation of identity is addressed to Jesus and, through him, to us all.

The Baptism of the Lord (10 January)

The Epiphany of the Lord (6 January)

Some inspiration

One of the very greatest representations of the Baptism is by Piero della Francesca in the National Gallery, London. Caroline Campbell offers a 30 minute lecture on the painting.

Wishing you all every blessing as we start 2021,

Kieran J. O’Mahony OSA