Homily for the 1st Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. Feast of the baptism of the Lord
Theme: GOD BAPTISED
By: Fr Uchendu Simeon
-Is 40; Tit 2 & 3; Lk 3
I know that this theme is a bit surprising. Of course, today is the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let me therefore draw you a bit to the person of this Jesus. Jn1:1 says; In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God. Vs 14 says, the Word took flesh, and dwelt among us. The disciples wondered, “who is this that even the sea and the wind obey him? (Mtt 8:27)”. He said; “I and my Father are one (Jn 10:30)”, and Thomas cried; “my Lord and my God (Jn 20:28)”. So, Jesus is God. Hence our theme says; God baptised. You can now appreciate how huge this celebration is.
The first question that comes to mind then is; he obviously did not need it (cf Heb 4:15), so why be baptised? For me, I can think of about three reasons; (1) to identify with and confirm the mission of John, (2) to inaugurate his own mission, (3) to emphasize the need for the Baptism he brings so that people will have no excuses, hence he later said “I tell you most solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”(Jn 3:5). Baptism therefore becomes a “conditio sine qua non” for entering heaven. He was therefore baptised, that we may take our practise of faith very serious.
So, what is Baptism? The word baptism is from the Greek Baptizo, which means, to immerse [(Rm 6:3-4(buried with Christ); 2 Kgs 5:4 (dipped in water)], wash up (Lk 11:38), wash (Mk 7:3-4a). Beside these varied meanings and applications of the word; we see a unique application of it. In Acts 1:5 Jesus said; “John baptized with water, but in few time days you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Note that when the Spirit came in Acts 2, for three times we read that the Holy Spirit was poured out on them (2:17, 18, 33). Hence biblically, the word baptism by meaning and application implies; to immerse, to pour, to wash, in/with water. This is why the church accepts both baptism by immersion and by pouring of water (affusion). Often, we baptise by affusion mostly due to the challenges and inconveniences that go with immersion.
Apart from water(natural), the other essential elements are the words of Baptism (Mtt 28:19 – baptise them in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit), and Faith (Mk 16:16 – he who believes and is baptised, will be saved). The correct use of the words is the duty of the person that baptised you. But the development and living of your faith is up to you. Even if you were baptised as an infant in the faith of the Church and that of those around, as was done in the scriptures (cf. Acts 2:38; Acts 10:44-48; Acts 16:15; Acts 16:31-33; Acts 18:8), you now have to discover its implications and live them out.
What is it that really happens at Baptism? (a) As the name implies, it washes away every iota of sin. (b) The Divine statement; “this is my beloved son/daughter, in whom I am well pleased” is made upon you. You are chosen, become adopted, become divinized, become an heir of God, a real part of the children of God the church. This is why you can, when ready, receive the body of the Divine Son and other sacraments, and have access to heaven.
What are the lessons for us?
(1) Believe in what your God has made you, and wants you to be. You are not ordinary.
(2) Boldly live out in full this life you have been given knowing that God your Father is with you.
-Fr Uchendu Simeon