Cyber-version my homily for the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord 2011
The Feast of the Baptism of our Lord brings to the close of the Season of Christmas. As a part of the broader Epiphany manifestation of God’s Presence and Love it bridges the birth and early life of Jesus into the time of His public ministry. Christ’s baptism is reported in all four Gospels. Mark and Luke share brief accounts of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. John provide’s perhaps the most detailed of insights. This year our Gospel account comes from Matthew’s witness and addresses one of the oldest challenges about our Lord’s baptism.
Why was Jesus baptized in the first place? If as God’s only begotten Son without any stain of sin (Original or committed) why did Jesus even have to be baptized? John the Baptist himself struggled with this as he tries to prevent our Lord from this humbling step. As he tells Jesus: “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” John recognizes the sinless, holy Love of God Present in Jesus. We, as Catholics affirm in our Christian faith the reality of original sin and of the need of our shared fallen humanity to receive the grace and mercy of God through this Sacrament. But…Why, Jesus?
Baptism is indeed the first sacred act, the first Sacrament, given by God to bring to us the saving graces of our Savior. This receiving the solution of sin is indeed the heart of of this holy step. But it is also the first step by which we share with God (and the world) our faith and our love for Him. As St. Peter would write in his first letter it is an answer of a good conscience toward God. It is a sacred, precious step of faith into the holy, grace-filled embrace of God the Father. It is what should be the first Yes! to God’s will in our life. Baptism is a public entrance into the Kingdom, the family of God.
As followers of Christ, whether we enter the holy waters of baptism through the faith of our parents (as did the household of Cornelius, and many others in the early Church) or through our own volition as a matter of personal conscience we are taking a holy step of love and faith. It is the first step by which the faithful enter into their holy Communion with the Body of Christ.
We cannot see how or where this step may lead, but with Christ we seek to say: “Yes. Thy will be done”
Sharing these holy waters with Jesus we seek to enter into and receive share the Cross of His Love, and even in our struggles to share His sufferings that we, through and with Him may know the joy of His resurrection.
Our faith then can lead us to know the healing embrace from the wounds of our fallen nature, the heartbreak of our sins, into His merciful eternal embrace.
Why was Jesus baptized? To show us the way, to take our hands and lead us to His Father’s mercy and love. Today as we listen to Him, as we receive prepare to receive His Sacred Body & Blood, may we say Yes Lord, I trust you, I’ll follow you.”