Theme: The Pomps of the Devil and the Culture of Death
By: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
Homily for Sunday January 9 2022
The Baptism of the Lord, which we celebrate today, and which brings the Christmas season to a close, is inextricably linked to our own baptism. Remarkably, at the baptism of Christ in the Jordan River, the heavens opened (Lk 3:21), indicating that his baptism opened the way to the kingdom of God for us to travel through our own new birth “of water and Spirit,” which is the Sacrament of Baptism. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn 3: 5).
In addition, the Baptism of Our Lord Jesus in the Jordan marks the beginning of his public ministry. Similarly, “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua)” (CCC. 1213). We become members of the family of God through baptism, with all of its rights and responsibilities. Additionally, we are incorporated into a group of friends who will never abandon us in life or death because they are part of the family of God and have the promise of eternal life. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1Cor 12:13).
Furthermore, baptism introduces us into — a culture of life — a new way of life. “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” (Rm 6:3-4). Besides, baptism equips us for spiritual combat against the contemporary anti-culture of death. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers ruling this present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places,” Saint Paul says succinctly (Ephesians 6:12).
In the Rite of Baptism in the Catholic Church, the godparents of the infant or catechumens are asked to publicly declare their decision to reject the seductions of the devil, which tradition calls “pomps of the devil. “That is, the apparent life that seemed to emanate from the pagan world, its permissiveness, and its way of life. They are to say “no” to a culture that appeared to be alive but was, in fact, an “anti-culture” of death. As a result, baptism is a resounding “no” to the apparent or fictitious life offered by the devil and his agents, as well as to the spectacles that elevate death, cruelty, and violence to the level of entertainment.
What occurred at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy centuries ago is an excellent example of the “pomps of the devil” and the “anti-culture” of death, which masquerades as entertainment evil, death, cruelty, and violence. History records that the Colosseum hosted thousands of gladiator hand-to-hand combats, contests between men and animals, and numerous larger combats as a form of entertainment. This can help us appreciate the extent to which the devil can outwit us by packaging and delivering evil to us in so many different disguises if we are not vigilant in prayer. Does this still happen today?
What kinds of books do you like to read? What kinds of movies do you watch? What kind of company do you keep? What school of thought do you subscribe to? What kinds of parties do you go to? If you are not vigilant, the devil can use this to serve his evil purposes. “Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy, the devil, is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. Stand up to him, strong in faith” (1 Peter 5: 8-9).
By responding affirmatively to the following questions: “Do you reject Satan?” “And all his works?” “And all his empty promises?” We reject and condemn the contemporary popular mainstream death culture, which includes sexual promiscuity, cruelty, violence, drug abuse, and atheism. They are anticultural because they lead us to corruption of joy, love of deceit and fraud, and perversion of the true meaning of life. Additionally, they seem to promise us apparent happiness, but in reality, they deflate us and create a chasm between us and Christ.
Furthermore, by responding affirmatively to the following questions: “Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?” “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?” “Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?” we receive through the hope for a good life, true happiness, the true life that God intended for us and for which we were created.
At the start of this year, let us renew our baptismal promises by saying “no” once again to the seductions and pomps of the devil. Let us resolve to seek the glory of God. May we resoundingly reject what appears to be life but is actually an instrument of death and let us reject the “anti-culture” of death in order to cultivate the culture of life. Let us, on the other hand, say a resounding “yes” to Christ, the conqueror of death and the source of both temporal and eternal life. May Our Lady, Mother of Christians, pray for us.
Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
January 9, 2022