Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year B
Theme: The Experience of Baptism
By: Fr. Cyri Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday January 10 2021
The Baptism of Christ was a very significant and central point in His life and mission. For us too, the day we received the Sacrament of Baptism is significant and central in our journey of faith and in our relationship with God. For Christ, it was a moment of revelation and manifestation. For us, it was a moment of transformation and regeneration. Celebrating this unique moment in the life of Christ, we are invited to reflect on our specific unique experiences on the day of our Baptism and how committed and faithful we are to our baptismal vows and promises. May God bless us with the grace of faithfulness to our vows; Amen.
Every year, the Church liturgically concludes the Christmas Season and begins the First part of the Ordinary Season with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Feast of today ordinarily reminds us of the day of our baptism; that very day in which we were reborn from above. Even though some were baptised as infants, the spiritual experience we made on our respective days of Baptism remains ever fresh and unforgettable and the specific grace received on that day remains effective throughout life. The Baptism of Christ was essentially different from ours. It was specifically a moment of revelation as we read in the Gospel Reading of today (Mark 1:7-11); firstly from the prophetic utterances of John the Baptist; “I have baptised you with water, but He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” And secondly from the voice that spoke from heaven; “You are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you.” Even though Jesus had no need of Baptism (Mt 3:14), He allowed Himself to go through that process to indicate to us the proper way to follow. The Baptism we received is a moment of regeneration and transformation by the power of God’s grace at work through visible realities and signs like water. These visible realities and signs by themselves are spiritually powerless and irrelevant. However, by the merits of Christ, they become signs of new life and means of spiritual transformation. Christ is the very principle of the effectiveness of these realities and signs. Christ is the one Who baptises us with the Holy Spirit. The power and the presence of the Holy Spirit make real the effectiveness of these realities and signs through which grace is given to our souls. To open ourselves to the direction and operation of these graces is the starting point of a spiritually fruitful life and a physically meaningful life.
As believers in Christ, the ultimate life of grace and integration into the life and merits of Christ begins at the waters of Baptism. The First Reading (Is 55:1-11), offers us great insights about the indispensability of water in our everyday life and physical sustenance. As the physical and ordinary water quenches thirst, irrigates the ground and makes things grow, so also does the spiritual and sanctified waters of Baptism transform us by restoring in us God’s true image which was greatly damaged by the sin of disobedience of our first parents Adam and Eve. At Baptism, we renounce Satan and reject any claim he may lay over us; we become new creatures in Christ, cleansed from the bondage of sin inherited from Adam and Eve; we become vested with the royal, priestly and prophetic statuses of all sons and daughters of God, we become members of God’s family here on earth and we gracefully journey together towards our true homeland in Heaven. Baptism disposes us to be open to God’s grace and to respond positively to His daily invitation to us. Faith in God through the person of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit is the starting point of this innermost spiritual disposition towards God. This is true about our Christian journey because “whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten by God; and whoever loves the Father that begot Him loves the Child whom He begets” (I Jn 5:1-9). With the Sacrament of Baptism, we not only receive the Holy Spirit that elevates us to the state of being sons and daughters of God, we are also filled with the gifts of faith, hope and charity. These three gifts open and enable our ears to hear the voice that speaks from above; to follow faithfully the examples Christ left for us; and to dispose ourselves to the directions and inspirations of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in the world at large. The gifts of faith, hope and love reform us into witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.
Lord Jesus Christ, you sanctified the waters of baptism by Your baptism in the River Jordan at the hands of John the Baptist and by Your Passion, Death and Resurrection. May we never lose sight of the obligations of our baptismal promises; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE