Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year A
Theme: Jesus embarking on His ministry
By: Fr. Benny Tuazon
Homily for Sunday January 12 2020
(Mt. 3:13-17) Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord
In today’s Gospel, the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord, the end of the Christmas Season, Jesus allowed Himself to be baptized by John and the Trinity is revealed when the Father spoke and the Spirit descended upon Jesus. John preached a baptism of repentance. But Jesus was without sin. Jesus was baptized for other reasons.
First, Jesus stamped credibility on John. There would be a time when John’s authority would be doubted. The fact that Jesus went to him is a testimony to the authenticity of John as the “voice crying in the wilderness”.
Second, Jesus had to inform John of His coming. That momentous meeting in the river Jordan gave vital information to John about the fulfilment of his role. He even questioned Jesus’ action. Jesus’ answer confirmed for John who Jesus was and provided John of the end of his role.
Third, it was a testimony of Jesus’ oneness with sinners. It will mark His ministry. He came for sinners like Matthew, Zacchaeus, Magdalene, the thief, the sick, and everyone. Whereas John’s baptism ends with repentance, Jesus’ baptism will find forgiveness for sinners from the dying and resurrection of Jesus. After Jesus’ resurrection, baptism will be the way to freedom from sin and reception of the gift of new life and salvation.
Fourth, it was the perfect moment to reveal the triune God. Jesus, the only Son of God was sent by the loving Father in the Spirit. The Trinity is at work in Jesus. The work of salvation is not by Jesus alone but courtesy of the Father, Son and Spirit. Later, Jesus will command His apostles to baptize everyone in the Trinity.
Jesus, after living with His parents for thirty years is now embarking on His ministry. He came to John to formalize it. In a way, that is what our baptism does to us. It does not only free us from original sin and grant us new life, but it also initiates us into the Christian ministry. The threefold function of Jesus are entrusted to us; pastoral, prophetic and priestly. Ideally, if these functions are to be meaningful, it should be given to somebody who can profess his faith. But the Church had allowed it to be given on children in order to fulfil what the Lord had commanded. It eliminates the question of the fate of the child if something happens to it unbaptized. It is solved by resting the responsibility of rearing the child to be a good Christian on the parents and Godparents.
Today, the Christmas Season ends. Ordinary Time follows. Hopefully, we have imbibed the Christmas spirit. Years ago we were visited by the pope. The visit of the pope was a blessing. It helped us be reminded of and remain in the spirit. But the pope left. Did our enthusiasm during his visit also leave?We hope it persisted. Did the spirit of giving, mercy and compassion also leave? Then, everything had gone to naught and all those preparations became useless. Let us not allow it to happen. Those were very important and rare opportunities. Let us seize the moment!