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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Homily 1-12-2014 Baptism of The Lord

Why now, at the close of the Christmas season and the start of Ordinary Time, do we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord? We just celebrate the mystery of the birth of Christ, the only begotten son of God. Now we reflect on how, through Him, we are all able to be adopted children born not of human choice...but of the will of God.
Furthermore, in last week's feast of Epiphany we continue the un-veiling (which is what the Greek word epiphany means) of the mystery of the person of Jesus Christ, which we see so poignantly in today's mystery.
Thirdly, the public life of Christ Jesus begins at His Baptism, so it is fitting we start the season that focuses on Christ the Teacher with the first event of His teaching ministry.

Why was Jesus baptized? On two accounts I can think of, Jesus clearly does not need the baptism that John offers. First, He is no disciple of John, but rather the one John says He is not worthy to stoop down and loosen a sandle. Secondly, Jesus as the sinless Son of God does not need a baptism that is meant for a confession of sins that prepares the way for the Messiah, Jesus Himself.

  1. To fulfill all righteousness.” This mysterious phrase helps to show us that Jesus sees God's plan in a deeper way than we do ourselves.
  2. As an example for us. To show that we ourselves should move by the path of repentance for our sins if we profess to be followers and disciples (“students”) of Christ Jesus.
  3. On our behalf. Jerome: Suffer now that I who have taken the form of a servant should fulfill all that low estate; besides, know that in the day of judgment you (John) must be baptized with my baptism. [through his death at the will of King Herod] Pseudo-Chrysostom: He comes to baptism that He who has taken upon Himself our human nature, may be found to have fulfilled the whole mystery of that nature; not that He is Himself a sinner, but that He has taken on Him a nature that is sinful. And therefore though He needed not baptism Himself, yet the carnal nature in others needed it.

    Why us?
    1
    . Participation. As Christ comes up from the waters of Baptism, we through our baptism are united with Him. This means we share in all that is His and He in all that is ours. He shares our sinful human nature, our human suffering, and in death. We share in His Cross, in His Resurrection, and in the signs of today's event: the Heavens are open to us who are reborn in Him, eternal life become available to us. And we hear the words of the Father as words directed to us: “Thou art my beloved.” “I am well pleased with you, my son, my daughter.”
    2. Adoption. In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.
    3. The Cross. Christ's mystery is foreshadowed today in His Baptism. We envision His humble acceptance that John mentions as if it were the Garden of Gethsemane; the going into the water as the Cross and burial in the tomb; the coming out of the water as the Resurrection; and the opening of Heaven as the Ascension. This mystery, through Baptism, becomes our mystery. It becomes the meaning of life for us. Let us rejoice in it, even in the crosses. Let us bind ourselves to Our Lord Jesus' baptism through our participation in Him from this altar.

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