Homily – January 13, 2019

Last Sunday we celebrated the first of three manifestations of Jesus when total strangers sought out the new born king of the Jesus. In today’s feast we celebrate the fact that Jesus is one like us in all things. He joined the people who came to John the Baptist seeking baptism, waiting his turn. He wanted to be identified with those around him .John resisted baptizing Jesus saying,’I need to be baptized by you and you come to me? Jesus insisted,’ it is proper for us to do it in this way. The manifestation that Jesus was favored by God was God’s spirit descending like a dove and the words; this is my son, the beloved in whom I am well pleased. Jesus wanted to be identified like one of us but the Father wanted us to know that he identified himself with Jesus.

In the Orthodox churches of the East the feast of the Baptism of Jesus was seen as far more important that last week’s feast of the Epiphany.

This is the feast that wants to make us think about our own baptism. While pouring water over our heads and saying, “I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and or the Holy Spirit – a ceremony far removed from the elaborate ceremony of baptisms in the early church when adult men and women who were gifted with the faith to see that Jesus crucified and risen as the one who made peace with humanity and God, were buried in the water of a stream or pond, symbolizing Jesus’ death and burial and coming up out of the water were clothed in a white garment, symbolizing their new life in Christ, their new life in the Christian community.

We all know that the Eucharist in the greatest of the sacraments when we are nourished with the body of Christ but Baptism is the most important of all the sacraments because it enables us to receive all the other sacraments.

Unless we are converts to the Catholic Church most of us have no memory of our baptism, we were infants. Baptism birthed us into our life with God, God our Father, Jesus our Savior, the Holy Spirit strength.

This feast challenges us to take and honest look at how we living the life that is ours through our baptism. St. Paul tells us that through our baptism, our birth into the Christian faith, we are to put on Christ. Paul tells us ‘clothe yourselves in Christ’. This feast challenges us to ask questions. How Christ like are we in the way we treat those who love us, in the way we relate to those who don’t love us. How Christ like are we in the ways we struggle to forgive those who have harmed us, disappointed us? How Christ like are we in the way we are there for those who need us; family members and friends who are ill, in nursing homes or confined to their own homes, people who would love a visit or a phone call? How Christ like are we in the ways we we welcome strangers into our lives as Christ did when with open arms he said, come to me all you who find life burdensome and I will refresh you with my friendship and support.

Asking ourselves such questions we will discover what impact the simple ceremony of our baptism has in our lives today and maybe we will, with the help of God’s grace, make greater efforts to live Christ-like lives. May the Father see in us what he saw in Jesus; a daughter, a son in whom he is well pleased.