Homily on the Baptism of the Lord

January 9, 2022 Mass
Speaker: Fr. Lam Le

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying (Lk 3:21)

This Feast truly is the transition: Since December 25, we have celebrated the infancy of our Lord. In today’s celebration, Jesus was over 30 years old and began His public ministry. This celebration calls for a transitioning in us, the believers in Christ. When we ponder on the title of this feast, precisely in the verb to be baptized, we see the call for a transition.

According to the Gospel of Luke, after all the people had been baptized, Jesus also was baptized by John the Baptist. The word “to baptize (Greek baptizein) means to plunge or immerse” (CCC no. 1214). Since John the Baptist’s “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Lk 3:3), all people who came to him were sinners. Jesus, however, is the Holy One of God and thus there is no need for him to receive John’s baptism. Jesus did so to explain the very depth of the incarnation: The world made flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14). Born of the blessed Virgin Mary, there is nothing in our humanity that the Son of God did not assume. In fact, where sins wounded, hurt, and tainted our human nature, Jesus entered that very place of humanity to heal, strengthen, and enlighten it. Standing with sinners waiting for baptism, is a proclamation that God has immersed Himself into our world.

If Jesus’ baptism at the Jordan is the manifestation that God truly immersed into our humanity, then our baptism is an invitation to immerse into God’s world or Baptism is “the gateway to life in the Spirit/ vitae spiritualis ianua” (CCC no. 1213). The Introductory Rite of the Mass reminds us that “When the Entrance Chant is concluded, with everybody standing, the Priest and faithful sign themselves with the Sign of the Cross. The Priest says: In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. The people reply, Amen.” (GRIM 124). These words remind us of our baptism. The very form of the first sacrament of Christian Initiation is: “N…, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  Thus, recalling the very name of God that we were baptized in, the Introductory Rite of the Mass reminds us that in the water of baptism we have immersed ourselves in the life of God, the Blessed Trinity. Since the Eucharistic celebration is the culmination of our initiation, we fully immerse ourselves or renew our immersion into the life of the Trinity at every Mass: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:56). In being united to the humanity of Christ, we are at the same time united to his divinity and thus share in the divine life of God. All of this happens because God sent “his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Rm 8:3).

The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord is a proclamation: God has crossed into our world, and we are to cross into God’s life. May the Sign of the Cross at the beginning of Mass remind us to have the audacity to cross. May everyone depart from every Eucharistic celebration truly bringing God home to our families, to our friends at the workplace, and to our acquaintances in the public square the values of the Kingdome of God. May we bring the Light that we have received by crossing into the realm of God to all people that we encounter, care for, and love. May Jesus Christ be praised. Amen.

Scriptural Readings: Reading I Is  40:1-5, 9-11 Responsorial Psalm Ps 104:1b-2, 3-4, 24-25, 27-28, 29-30  Reading II Ti 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Alleluia Cf. Lk 3:16 Gospel Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

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