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Audio Available!
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Homily - 1/13/2013 - Baptism of the Lord

God has a plan for your life, and that plan begins and is forever summed up in your baptism. The meaning of life is found in Baptism: it is that God makes us His Beloved Children and that we are to live in such a way that brings Him the greatest pleasure and delight.
I have sometimes surprised people when I tell them that the most important day of my life was not June 11, 2011 when I was ordained a priest, nor April 25th, 2010 when I was ordained a deacon, nor my birthday nor anything else but the day I was baptized, October 14th 1984. In fact, nothing comes close to that since without Baptism I would never have had any of those other important days, because Baptism is the “doorway to the sacramental life of the Church.” My priesthood is so very important to me, but it wouldn't mean anything, it wouldn't make sense without the vocation I have received in Baptism, the mission we all have as members of the one Body of Christ.
Since God's plan for your life in found in Baptism, this sacrament must lead us to a mission, a vocation. A mission or vocation requires a clear vision of both the big picture and our part in it. That vision comes from prayer and reflection on one's life. So Baptism without prayer means little, if anything at all. Let us look at Jesus.
Jesus' mission begins with His baptism, which is not the same as ours was, since He sancitifies the waters for us to be united with Him. From that Baptism, and from His prayer, Jesus receives the Holy Spirit upon Him in great power, and the voice of the Father calling out “you are my beloved.”
A Christian, a little Christ, must do more than just receive the sacrament of Baptism in order to find their vocation, to find out how they fit into God's big plan for the salvation of the world. This can only be accomplished by prayer. We must look to Jesus as our model: though we hear almost nothing of it in the Gospels, Jesus spends 30 years in preparation for his future mission – praying, studying Scripture, learning and practicing the trade of carpentry. We have to remember that the Lord is preparing us for something, and we have to help our children (and, really, all the youth of our parish) to see that. I am sure Mary and Joseph helped Jesus those 30 years. This should be a reminder to us that a vocation grows in a family, and we learn it from those who live their life with meaning and a vision.
Although prayer gives the necessary vision for the mission we receive in Baptism, we still need prayer afterward to help us keep that in focus. This is exactly why after Jesus has a clear vision of what His life is about, he goes to the desert to pray. And even throughout the Gospels he spends time alone in prayer, sometimes entire nights keeping vigil, recalling that vision and living from it. If he failed to keep that prayer, he would lose it – just as I have seen so many friends and acquaintances get lost in this world after drifting from prayer. So pray, see, live!

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