Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year C
Theme: The identity of every Christian
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
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
The Christmas season, in which we celebrate the Self-revelation of God through Jesus, comes to an end today, with the feast of the Baptism of Our Lord. Christmas is the feast of God’s Self-revelation to the Jews, and Epiphany celebrates God’s Self-revelation to the Gentiles. At his Baptism in the Jordan, Christ reveals himself to repentant sinners.
Today, we solemnly celebrate the feast of “The Baptism of the Lord.” Till yesterday, we celebrated an ‘infant Jesus.’ From today, we celebrate an ‘adult Jesus.’ This is why today’s celebration marks the transition from the liturgical season of Christmas into the liturgical season of Ordinary Time.
The baptism of Our Lord Jesus by John the Baptist in the River Jordan is an important event in Jesus’ life with profound significance. It is highly symbolic, having deep meaning with numerous implications. Its importance is characterized with the fact that all the three Evangelists of the Synoptic Gospels, viz. St. Matthew, St. Mark & St. Luke speak of this striking event. Although there are slight differences in their individual accounts – in reality however, all of them unanimously agree that the baptism of Our Lord Jesus also marks the beginning of his public ministry.
First and foremost, the baptism of Jesus reminds us of our identity. It reminds us of who we are and whose we are. The first reading of today from the prophecy of Isaiah tells us we are God’s children “… I have called you by name, you are mine” (Is. 43:1) By Baptism we become sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus, members of his Church, heirs of Heaven and temples of the Holy Spirit. We become incorporated into the Church, the Body of Christ, and made sharers in the priesthood of Christ [CCC #1279]. Hence, “Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit and the door which gives access to the other Sacraments” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1213).
Secondly, Jesus’ baptism reminds us also of our mission:
(a) To experience the presence of God within us, to acknowledge our own dignity as God’s children, and to appreciate the Divine Presence in others by honoring them, loving them and serving them in all humility.
(b) To live as the children of God in thought, word and action.
(c) To lead holy and transparent Christian lives and not to desecrate our bodies (the temples of the Holy Spirit and members of Jesus’ Body), by impurity, injustice, intolerance, jealousy or hatred.
(d) To accept both the good and the bad experiences of life as the gifts of a loving Heavenly Father for our growth in holiness; and
(e) To grow daily in intimacy with God by personal and family prayers, by meditative reading of the Word of God, by participating in the Holy Mass, and by frequenting the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Thirdly, it is a day to thank God for the graces we have received in Baptism, to renew our Baptismal promises and to preach Christ’s “Good News” by our transparent Christian lives of love, mercy, service and forgiveness. In this Year of Mercy, we are called to relive our stewardship as a way of life by proclaiming the good news with conviction; by living lives that manifest the mercy and compassion of God. We are called to be the good news of salvation to those alienated, those that question the fact that we still go to Church, so that they at last may be led by our example to come back to the faith and find joy and fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
By the virtue of our baptism, we become Christ’s messengers: anointed, commissioned and sent to continue his presence and proclaim his good news of salvation until he comes again.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*