Theme: IN A PRAYERFUL LIFE, OUR IDENTITY AS CHRISTIANS IS REVEALED!
By: Fr. Augustin Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday January 9 2022
(ISAIAH 40:1-5,9-11, TITUS 2:11-14;3:4-7, LUKE 3:15-16,21-22)
With the feast of the Baptism, we make a swift transition from Jesus’ childhood to the event that inaugurates his adult public ministry. This very short passage that Luke gives us, shows us that God has anointed His Son, Jesus, to go out and heal and save the world. Without wanting to suggest an anticipation here of the fully formulated doctrine of the Trinity, it is important to note the “trinitarian” dimension of the scene: the divine communion of love that is the Trinity (Father, Son, and Spirit) is operative, not in heavenly remoteness, but here on earth at the Jordan river. The mission of the Son which will be to draw human beings -lost family- back into the warmth of the divine communion of love.
The feast of the Baptism of our Lord serves to remind us of our own Baptisms. Baptism has liberated us from all evil & bondage from any ancestry, which are sins, but with God’s grace we must accomplish all good thing. In baptism we have a rebirth, initiation, and empowerment; our commitment and dedication to a cause, to spread the kingdom of God. One problem people have with today’s gospel is to understand why Jesus needed to be baptized.
I will draw from Pope Benedict’s book ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ to help solve this problem. Sinless Jesus did not have any sins of his own to take down into the river Jordan, therefore it could only have been our sins that he took down into the river Jordan. Naturally no one would understand this at that time, but they would realize this later when they understood that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. So, Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan and his dying on the cross go together; he did both for our sins. He took our sins on his shoulders as he went down into the Jordan and as he died on the cross.
Just as there is a close link between Jesus’ baptism and his cross there is a close link between our baptism and Jesus’ cross. Paul in his letter to the Romans tells us, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Rom 6:3-4)
Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan expressed the intention of his whole life right up to dying on the cross for us, taking our sins on himself to save us. Our baptism also expresses the intention of our whole life up to our death, leaving our sin behind and living with the life of Jesus. Every day is to be a living out of our baptism with that new life of Jesus. That is why we are baptized in the same Trinity that was made manifest at Christ’s baptism as enjoined by Christ.
In Luke’s Gospel, the voice of the Father is heard not when Jesus was being Baptized or even when he was arising from the waters, but afterwards, when Jesus is praying. We witness it here in today’s Gospel, as he prays after his baptism and again at the Transfiguration, and later even the Apostles, too, receive the Holy Spirit when gathered in prayer at Pentecost.
My brothers and sisters, in prayer, Christ’s identity was revealed as the beloved son of the Father. For us his disciples, prayer renews and connects us to God, and is an affirmation and renewal of our baptismal identity and strengthens us to undertake our ministry. A prayerful life is an active action of building the Kingdom of God on Earth.
Happy feast of your baptism!
Fr. Augustin Ikechukwu Opara