Homily by Fr. Michael Casagram:
+THIS IS MY BELOVED
The Baptism of the Lord, 12 Jan. 2020
What are we celebrating today? If we say the Lord’s baptism, the words of John the Baptist quickly come to mind: “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?” And then we are told after Jesus was baptized that “he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened for him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.” I find myself asking for what purpose was this, for how could Jesus not have been filled with the Holy Spirit from the moment of his conception in Mary’s womb?
And then there is the voice from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” and I began to see the reason for our gathering to celebrate this Feast. It is about both who Jesus is and who we become by reason of his presence among us. With and through him we become the “beloved” of God. Our Baptism immerses us in Christ’s own Body, become his living members. What began with John’s baptism in the Jordan, is fulfilled in us as we allow his Holy Spirit to live in us and govern our lives.
Through our Baptism we have not just become a special society of human beings but the very Body of Christ. “By one Spirit we were all baptized into the body” St Paul tells the Corinthians. Being “baptized into Christ” we “put on Christ” he tells the Galatians. We have been baptized “into his death…so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” he tells the Romans. In a letter to the Colossians he tells them: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God.” This gift of our Baptism sustains us as Christians and comes to full fruition in a life that never ends. “If we have died with Christ,” we are assured by Paul, “we shall also live with him” forever.
We cannot appreciate enough the grace of our Baptism! To be conscious of it, is to let its power permeate the whole of our daily lives so that they become a joyful celebration that never ends. It is said that the most fundamental aspect of our Baptism is that makes us living members of Christ’s Body, the Church. The news of sexual abuse in the Church, does not prevent for a moment, its true disciples from being living and life-giving members of Christ’s Body. Serious wounds have been inflicted on Christ’s Body but healing is underway. Its healthy members, remaining true to their calling, provide the very remedy that makes it stronger than it ever was. The recent crisis may well be one of the best things to have happened.
We celebrate the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan today, but it is above all our own feast day, the remembrance of the grace that has flooded our lives, the coming of the Holy Spirit into our hearts. It is a fitting way to bring this Christmas season to an end. God’s taking on our human flesh was an act of love beyond compare. It finds its full unfolding in each of us as we live from the grace of our baptism. Baptized in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit opened our own hearts to a Love that is to fill the whole world around us, touch the lives of all with whom we live. We are all to be God’s beloved!
The Eucharist we are about to receive strengthens the presence and outpouring of the Holy Spirit within our lives. As Christ’s self-sacrifice becomes present at this altar and we partake of his Body and Blood, we are nourished in in the life begun at the moment of our baptism. Amen
Is 42:1-4, 6-7; Acts 10:34-38; Mt 3:13-17