Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord (C) (10th January, 2016) on the Gospel and the Feast
Is 42:1-4.6-7 or Is 40:1-5.9-11;Ps 28:1-4.9-10 (R. v.11) or Ps 103:1-2.3-4.24-25.27-30. (R. v. 1);
Acts 10:34-38 or Tit 2:11-14.3:4-7;
One day a man who was notorious for beating his wife was provoked by his wife. He raised his hand to do the evil he knew how best to do but his hand stood still in the air as if suspended by unseen power. His wife who had been seized by fear could not understand what happened. She wondered if all was okay because he had never raised his hand without beating her even at the slightest provocation.
This man by name Udemba who recently took the name Paul at baptism was in that position for some time staring at his wife. Later he shook his head and exclaimed while lowering his hand: “Ụka emee Udemaba ka ọ ghọọ nwanyị” literally meaning that the church has turned him into a woman. He remembered the instructions he received before receiving the sacrament of baptism when his hand was already up. Hence, although he did not relent easily yet he did not proceed.
Topic: A baptized.Today, the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord is a good opportunity to remind ourselves few things we already know about baptism. We read from today’s gospel that when Jesus “had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased’” cf. Lk 3:21-22.
Through the sacrament of baptism we become part and parcel of Christ, cf. Col 2:12; 1Cor 12:13. Everyone baptized into Christ have put on Christ, (cf. Gal 3:27) and are baptized into His death, cf. Rom 6:3. We are washed, sanctified, and justified at baptism, cf. 1Cor 6:11; Acts 22:16. It is through faith that we become sons and daughters of God, cf. Gal 3:26. The Holy Spirit we receive on the day of our baptism marks us as the children of God, cf. Acts 2:38; Rom 8:9. All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons and daughters of God, cf. Rom 8:14. Hence Saint Paul cautions us not to grieve the Holy Spirit of God in whom we are sealed for the day of redemption, cf. Eph 4:30. We are baptized with the Holy Spirit, cf. Mk 1:8; Acts 1:5.
It is through the sacrament of baptism that we escape the wrath of God, cf. Matt 3:7. Hence Christ teaches us that “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16:16). But the sacrament of baptism goes with repentance, cf. Mk 1:4-5; Lk 3:3; Matt 3:6.
Christ came to call us, sinners, to repentance, cf. Lk 5:32. And repentance must be concretized in real life. Hence John tells us as he told the Pharisees and the Sadducees to “Bear fruit that befits repentance” (Matt 3:8). It must be translated into a change of life for good, cf. Lk 3:7-14. True repentance is what will save us and not our claims of whom we have as father, mother, brother, or sister, cf. Lk 3:8. Repentance leads to salvation and brings no regret, cf. 2Cor 7:10. God is lenient with us not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance, cf. 2Pt 3:9. However, we must not count His leniency as a weakness.
As we thank God for the gift of our Saviour whose baptism we commemorate today, we equally thank Him for the gift of the sacrament of baptism. However, we must remember that it is only those who live the life of Baptism will hear on the last day: ‘You are my son (daughter), the beloved; with you I am well pleased” (Lk 3:22; cf. Matt 25:34-36). Otherwise, our baptism (born again) will be part of the things that will condemn us before God on the last day. We were buried with Christ by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life, cf. Rom 6:4.
Bible Reading: Matt 25:31-46; Lk 3:7-14; Col 2:6-19; 3:1-17; 2Pt 3:1-13.
Thought for today: Live as you should.
Let us pray: Lord, thank you for making us your sons and daughters through baptism. Help us to live lives of the baptized – Amen.
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