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Baptism of the Lord – Homily

Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7
Psalm 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10 (11b)
Acts 10:34-38
Matthew 3:13-17
January 12, 2020

Christmas day was 18 days ago.  We began our Christmas season with the story of the birth of our savior “who is Christ and Lord.”  Then, we celebrated Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as the Holy Family and heard of their flight to Egypt and their return. 

Then we honored Mary as Mother of God.  Last Sunday was the Epiphany of the Lord, the visit of the magi.  Today, our Christmas season draws to a close with our celebration of the Baptism of the Lord.

Up to this point, everything we have celebrated on Sundays and Holy Days during our Christmas season has been from the infancy of Jesus.  So, knowing that Jesus was baptized as an adult, why do we hear about the Baptism of the Lord as part of our Christmas season?

Of course, today we baptize babies.  So, the discussion of a birth of a baby could naturally lead to a discussion of baptism.

However, I don’t think that fully explains why we end our Christmas season with the story of Jesus’ baptism. 

Why was Jesus born?

He came to be a savior. 

What has Jesus done as our savior.  Ultimately, He was crucified for our sins but He had much to do in his public ministry.  His public ministry began at his Baptism.  From there, He did mighty deeds and proclaimed God’s Word.

So, we end our Christmas season with the Baptism of the Lord to think about the purpose of his birth, our salvation.

John baptized many people in the Jordan River.  However, when Jesus comes to him to be baptized, John the Baptist knows he is not worthy, trying “to prevent him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me!”

Jesus replied simply, “Allow it now, for thus is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.”  It is what God wants and John does what God wants.

So why did Jesus come to be baptized?  What is baptism?  What effect does it have?

First, we need to understand that John’s baptism was not the same as we celebrate Baptism today.

John’s baptism was for one purpose, the forgiveness of sins

Jesus had no sins.  Thus, He didn’t need baptism for forgiveness.  Yet, it was “fitting” for Jesus to be baptized.  He sets an example for us.

Jesus, as Son of God, took the baptism of John and made it something more.

What happened when Jesus “came up from the water”? 

The heavens were opened for him.” 

Thus, in Baptism, Heaven is opened for us.  We are adopted into God’s family.  We are God’s children with Jesus as our brother.  When we open ourselves to the grace of Baptism we are “inwardly transformed”.

Who can be baptized?  Everyone, for “God shows no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” 

What else did we see in the Baptism of Jesus?  “The Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon him.” 

Through the prophet Isaiah, we hear the significance of the one who receives God’s spirit to “bring forth justice” but without shouting or “making his voice heard.”  Jesus does not force faith upon anyone.  Each person is to choose to accept the gift of faith.

In our Baptism, like Jesus, we receive the Holy Spirit and are sealed with the Spirit in Confirmation.  In Baptism, we are chosen.  We are called by the one who formed us. 

After baptism with water, one is anointed with the Sacred Chrism to be a priest, prophet, and king like Jesus.  We are called to make sacrifices, share God’s Word, and serve others following the example of Jesus. 

I said it is our choice to accept the gift of faith.  With faith comes responsibility, a responsibility to follow Jesus and help others do the same.

We don’t always feel adequate for this.  That’s why God gives us the Spirit.  Alone we are limited but with the Holy Spirit we can accomplish what God calls us to.

Most of us were baptized as babies.  That means our parents made the choice to be baptized for us.  Thus, one who doesn’t want to do what Jesus calls to, might think I didn’t accept my baptismal promises.  I hope no one thinks that way but I fear one might.

However, when we are confirmed, part of this Sacrament is the renewal of baptismal promises where we say yes for ourselves.

We are also reminded of our baptism every time we enter church and bless ourselves with holy water and the Sign of the Cross.  We are saying, “Yes God” I believe and I want to follow you.

At Easter we all renew our baptismal promises, we renew our “yes” to God.  We receive Baptism and Confirmation each only once in our lifetime.  We are forever marked by Baptism and Confirmation.  We call this an indelible mark that imparts a sacramental character upon us.

We say “yes” at our Baptism.  We say “yes” at our Confirmation but really we need to say yes to God everyday of our lives. 

2 Comments

  1. Wm. Harper says:

    Hello Father Jeff —

    I am a ordained minister in the Protestant tradition and have a great passion for preaching. I must admit that I am not the most original writer when it comes to sermon construction. I cam always looking for sources which help me convey the Gospel with clarity and truth. I came across your website and must say that I commend you for the work that you do — VERY WELL DONE! You present the Gospel in a very clear, concise way — as way which is true to Holy Scripture and which also touch the lives of people today.

    When I read such a homily it means so very much to me and gives me the words I want to share with my people. When I work with such a message, I digest each word, internalize it, make it become very much a part of me and my own personality. I am not when it comes to preaching –I just want to give to my people the Good News of God’s love in the best way possible and you certainly are a tremendous help.

    Let me ask you..do you mind if I do some “borrowing, begging, and stealing,” from you? I know you do not know me personally, but those who do tell me that sense my deep passion for preaching. I may not be the most gifted writer but I do feel God has gifted me with discerning the Good News, the proclaiming of His Word, and a love for His people.

    There are some folks who even desire a copy of what I preach and I send it to them my email.
    Therefore, let me ask you…if someone wants a copy of what I preached based upon what you provided for me, am I permitted to provide them with what I have preached? Also do you require recognition, acknowledgement? Some priest (pastors) say, “Don’t attribute anything to me it is all for the good of God’s people….it is God’s Word, not mine.” Then, on the other hand, there are those who want to be recognized. I hope you will give me free reign, and Father, believe me I would NEVER, NEVER use anything you have done for commercial purposes. I just want to proclaim God’s love in Christ to my people and I think it is great when we can help each other in performing that task.

    Please let me hear from you soon, since I will be planning the upcoming Lenten Season.

    Thank you again for all you do…for your understanding, and sharing your thoughts with me.

    May our gracious Lord continue to bless you with the abundance of His MARVELOUS love.

    Grace and Peace,

    Wm.E. Harper

  2. Fr. Jeff says:

    Rev. Harper,

    Thank you for your positive comment about what you read on my blog. I am glad to hear of the effort you put into your own preaching. I pray that the Holy Spirit always guide you in your preaching and in all your ministry.

    Turning to your question about using material from my blog (blog.renewaloffaith.org/blog) or website (www.renewaloffaith.org), I post it for the benefit of anyone who reads it and for the glory of God.

    Thus, anyone who uses material from my website is more than welcome to do. Anyone is welcome to incorporate into preaching as they would commentaries or other resources without needing to give any credit or reference to me.

    If someone wishes to use material in a paper or similar way, then quotes should be cited but if you get an idea from something I write and go in your own direction with it, I am not concerned with credit. After all, I pray it all comes from the Holy Spirit.

    Peace,

    Fr. Jeff

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