Posted on: January 14, 2019
Homily for Baptism of the Lord
In the Gospel of Luke today, we read of an important event of Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River by his cousin John.
This marks the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, and over the next few months, we will be hearing in the holy Mass, many of the signs and teachings of Jesus during His ministry. It makes sense then that this feast ends the Christmas season, the birth and younger years of Jesus, and starts the season of ordinary time, his adult ministry.
So, what is Baptism? All of us know that is important for us to be baptized. My parents had me baptized seventeen days after my birth. As soon as we are able, we bring our children to the church to be baptized but why?
Baptism is where we receive the presence of the God in our souls and hope of salvation! There is nothing better we can do as parents than to have our children baptized as soon as possible!
The name “Emmanuel” means “God is with us,” and when we receive baptism, we receive Emmanuel. God is always with us no matter what after our baptism, and if God is with us, who can be against us?
We also bring our children to receive baptism because the waters of baptism clean us of original sin, the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. That sin, which we inherited, destroyed the friendship we had with God, but God restores it in His son Jesus. Jesus didn't’ need to be baptized because He is God, but He went into the waters and his presence in the water blesses the water so that by His baptism, we are made clean by the waters which are blessed by God through His ordained ministers, and we have our friendship with Him restored.
The word Baptism comes from the Greek word “Baptizo” and it means “to immerse.” So when Jesus went into the waters, this immersion represents His death, and when He comes out, this represents His resurrection to new life. So, when we are baptized, we literally enter into the death and resurrection of Jesus, and we are saved by His saving act, his sacrifice on the cross for our sins.
We also see in the Gospel that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are present with Jesus the Son, and in those who are baptized in His baptism. The voice of the Father encourages us by telling us how pleased he is with His Son and that we should listen to Him and the Holy Spirit comes appears as a dove which represents that Jesus brings peace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The baptism of John was important but it could not save us, it was a sign of repentance and turning away from sin, but the baptism which Jesus brings is much more significant because it changes our souls and we receive a special seal or character. After baptism we are different, we are marked with the Holy Spirit and God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are now dwelling inside of us. We have graces so that we can persevere in this life with hope, and peace, and love, and faith, and we can grow in wisdom and understanding and become soldiers for Christ in this battle against the devil who is trying to destroy our hope.
On the day of our judgment after our death, it is because we have been baptized with Jesus, that God will see His Son in each of us. Jesus acts as our mediator, and because God sees His Son in us, He welcomes us into Heaven so long as we do not die in a state of mortal sin, which is unrepented serious sin that cuts us off from God’s saving grace.
We bring our children to be baptized as soon as possible because we understand how important baptism is for our salvation and for our journey in this life, a journey which is extremely difficult and impossible to do alone, separated from God and His Church. We do this because we love our children and we want to give them the greatest gift that we can give them, the life of grace in their souls and the gift of everlasting life.
God is always with us in the sacrament of baptism. When we feel alone, or we are struggling with sin, or we are suffering, we always have the grace of baptism to help us if we ask for it, and God never abandons us even though he allows us to be put to the test.
Parents, grandparents, godparents, if you had your children baptized, remember this if you are discouraged that they are not practicing their faith. The grace is there for them, and God is merciful to the very end.
For those who are living in mortal sin, I encourage you to call upon the grace of your baptism and ask the Holy Spirit to give you the discipline you need to go to confession and have that grace restored in your soul, to live in the light of truth and to encourage others with forgiveness and hope and love which you have received. We are all in this together, and we are strong when we are united by the saving grace of our baptism in the life of Jesus Christ.
God Bless you all and let us now continue in our journey towards Eternal life by being nourished by His Body and Blood in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.