Homily for Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year B. 10-01-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Isaiah 55:1-11
Psalm: Isaiah 12:2-3, 4:5-6
Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-9
Gospel: Mark 1:7-11
Today as we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we come to the end of Christmastide and launch ourselves into the ordinary season of the Church’s life. As such we are invited to reflect on that hallowed occasion when Christ the Only Begotten Son of the Father was baptized. Our Catholic penny Catechism teaches us that baptism is a sacrament that washes away our sins, makes us children of God and members of the Church. Christ had no sin yet He came to John to be baptized. Why? We know that with the incarnation Christ as God came down to earth taking flesh like us humans; He was truly man like us in all things except sin. However, He accepts baptism today not to be cleansed of any sin, for He had none, but to identify with us sinners and show us the path to follow in order to become children of God. So, as we celebrate this Feast, we recall our own moments of baptism; and for the unbaptized too, they are also invited by this event to commit themselves to be baptized as well, so that as Christ our Master leads so shall we all follow.
John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3). Christ’s submission for this baptism as a sinless man was therefore a great act of humility also foreshadowing the ‘baptism’ of His bloody death upon the cross. And this signalled the beginning of His public mission as God’s suffering servant (Isaiah 53) which He accepted whole heartedly in loving obedience to the Father for our sake and our salvation. The joy and approval of the triune God is expressed today in the concrete presence of the Trinity at this occasion; as the heavens open, the Spirit descends like a dove and the voice of the Father is heard confirming the Divine sonship of Jesus who is being baptised. The Father addresses Jesus as His beloved Son, the same status we attain by our baptism that makes us God’s beloved children. With this we can follow Christ and it is precisely if we truly follow Him perfectly that we can rightly merit to be called Christians. This is the heed we are invited to give to the invitation offered us in the first reading to come to the rich messianic banquet of rich food and rich drink so that not just our bodies but our souls also receive nourishment and live. Everyone is invited to this banquet, but only those who prepare themselves can participate in the banquet. Before we participate in the Lord’s banquet, we must first purge ourselves of the dirt of our sins in the sacrament of reconciliation where we obtain His mercy. Have you purged yourself of your sins? It is only after this that we can have a worthy participation at His table and obtain nourishment for our souls.
Participation in the banquet of the Lord establishes a covenantal relationship between us and God as we become His witnesses calling to God the nations that do not know Him so that all can obtain His mercy and be saved. This is the vocation of Christ being inaugurated today with His baptism which is another birth. It is with His baptism that He is being born into public ministerial life. We can therefore see that just as Christmas began with the physical birth of Christ in human form, today Christmas ends yet with another form of birth through the waters of baptism. As such the beginning and the end of Christmas have a lot in common.
At Christmas God is manifested to us as one of us born as a baby in human form. At epiphany He manifests Himself to pagans through the star showing us that His mission is universal. And at baptism today Christ is publicly manifested to us all in the voice of the Father confirming Him not just as man but as God who is the beloved Son. The whole of Christmas is therefore dotted with theophanies of God’s manifestations of Himself to us in different ways. This is the vocation to which we are also called by our baptism, which we nourish in the Eucharist. That is, to continue the manifestation of God as His beloved children in our dark world to people around us so that everyone in the dark will see through us the light of Christ. Do you reflect the light of Christ by your life? How faithful are you to this vocation? Christmas might have come to an end today liturgically, but if we continue to show and spread God’s love in the world, then every day is indeed Christmas.
Therefore, we must without delay, join Christ as He begins His public ministry today, to carry His good news of life, love, joy, peace, and reconciliation and spread it gradually in our communities so that through us God’s healing love can heal our hearts, our families, our communities and our world. As long as we love Him and have faith in Him, we can overcome the world by keeping His commands and doing His will in our lives no matter how much the world opposes us. It can never be easy, but we are sure of one thing - His promise to be with us till the end of time. May the Lord fill our hearts with His joy and peace as we seek to do His will everyday of our lives. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.