Homily (Reflection) for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (A) (12th January, 2020) on the Gospel and the Feast
Is 42:1-4. 6-7;
Ps 28:1-4.9-10 (R. v.11);
Acts 10: 34-38;
We celebrate today both the feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ which marks the end of the Christmas season as well as the first Sunday of the Ordinary Time, A.
Topic: Baptized in the Trinity.
We read in today’s gospel that after Jesus was baptized:
…just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased’ (vv.16-17).
This is the manifestation of the Blessed Trinity. Could it be that this happened because Jesus is the Son of God?
While instructing his disciples Jesus said: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). And while addressing the crowd Peter said, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). Baptism is the beginning of one’s life as a Christian and Christ himself affirms the necessity of Baptism for salvation, cf. Jn 3:3, 5; CCC 1213, 1257.
During Baptism, the plunging into or pouring of water symbolises being buried with Christ and with him every baptized rose as a new creature, cf. 2Cor 5:17; Rom 6:3-4; CCC 1214. Every baptized must live accordingly, cf. Rom 6:6-7, 12-13. Hence, while clothing the neophyte with the white garment the celebrant says: “N, N you have become a new creature, and have clothed yourselves in Christ see in this white garment the outward sign of your Christian dignity. With your family and friends to help you by word and example bring that dignity unstained into the everlasting life of heaven.” And “For the grace of Baptism to unfold, the parents’ help is important. So too is the role of godfather and godmother, who must be firm believers, able and ready to help the newly baptised – child or adult – on the road of Christian life.... The whole ecclesial community bears some responsibility for the development and safeguarding of the grace given at Baptism” (CCC 1255). And “The candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the neophyte. And in him the baptized are ‘the light of the world’” (CCC 1243; cf. Gal 3:27; Matt 5:14; Acts 13:47).
Saint Paul wrote,
You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph 4:22-24).
Baptism goes with repentance, forgiveness of sins and the reception of the Holy Spirit, cf. Acts 2:38.
Although Baptism is necessary for salvation but it does not grant an automatic entrance into heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church puts it thus: “For all the baptized, children or adults, faith must grow after Baptism. For this reason the Church celebrates each year at the Easter Vigil the renewal of baptismal promises. Preparation for Baptism leads only to the threshold of new life. Baptism is the source of that new life in the Christ from which the entire Christian life springs forth” (CCC 1254).
It is because of the fact that we receive the Holy Spirit at the Baptism that Saint Paul asks: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own” (1Cor 6:19). In his Letter to the Ephesians he also wrote: “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Eph 4:30). We are baptised into Christ, who is the light of the world (cf. Rom 6:3). Hence Jesus tells us: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (Jn 8:12). Do we still walk with that light given to us at Baptism, (cf. Eph 5:8) and how about our garments? It is only “The faithful Christian who has ‘kept the seal [of Baptism]’ until the end, remaining faithful to the demands of his Baptism, will be able to depart this life ‘marked with the sign of faith’” (CCC 1274). And this is the true meaning of being a born-again. Remember "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matt 6:24, cf. Lk 16:13).
My dear ones in Christ, we are called to be beloved children of God. And God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us, (cf. Lk 12:12; Jn 14:26; Acts 1:8) and Jesus Christ as our example, (cf. Jn 13:15; 1Pt 2:21). One will either hear on the last day “This is my Son [daughter], the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17) or “… I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!” (Lk 13:27; Matt 7:23; 25:41). It depends on what you make out of today. If you have repelled the Holy Spirit given to you ask God for he does not refuse anyone who asks, cf. Lk 11:13. We can do nothing on our own, cf. Jn 15:5.
Bible Reading: Jn 3:1-21; Matt 28:16-20; Rom 6:1-14; Eph 2:1-10; Eph 4:1-5:2.
Silent Prayer: Do you remember that you ought to be God’s beloved?
Let us Pray: Lord, give us the grace to remember always the dignity of our call as Christians and live our lives accordingly – Amen.
May the grace of our Baptism be ever new + AMEN!
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