Baptism of the Lord, Year B – Homily

The Baptism of the Lord
Isaiah 55:1-11
Isaiah 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6 (3)
1 John 5:1-9
Mark 1:7-11
January 10, 2021

Our Christmas season will end this evening following our celebration of the Baptism of the Lord.

Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our savior who is Christ and Lord.  Since Jesus was baptized as an adult, one might ask what his baptism has to do with his birth.

St. Maximus of Turin (in Friday’s Office of Readings) says regarding Jesus’ Baptism, “At Christmas he was born a man; today he is reborn sacramentally. Then he was born from the Virgin; today he is born in mystery.”

Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River.  The Jordan River was where Joshua led the Israelites across into the Promised Land, beginning a new stage in the life of the Israelites.

The baptism of John was only for the forgiveness of sins.  However, he knew that one mightier than he was coming and would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is baptized by John to set an example for us.  At his baptism, the Holy Spirit comes upon him so that we know the Spirit is upon him.  God’s divine voice is heard saying, “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased” to give us divine assurance of who Jesus is.

Like John’s, Jesus’ Baptism forgives sins.  It also gives us the Holy Spirit and opens heaven for us.  It makes us children of God by adoption. 

The waters of baptism cleanse us of our sins.  Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord invites, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water!…come, without paying and without cost.”  What we receive in baptism is God’s free gift to us.  We might spend our “wages for what fails to satisfy” when the greatest thing is free.

The life we begin in baptism is a free gift but it does not come without expectation.  To fully receive the gift, we need to receive it with obedience in faith.

Here, in Isaiah we hear, “Heed me, and you shall eat well…listen, that you may have life.

We need to pay attention to what the Lord says.  Are you listening right now?  What does it mean to listen?

I offer two definitions of “listen.”  The first is to pay attention to sound.  You know the sound is made because you hear it but do you really know what was said.  Here, one might think of when your spouse says something to you, you respond, “Yes dear” and then realize you don’t know what you just said yes to.

The second definition of “listen” is “to hear with thoughtful attention.”  You don’t just hear the sound.  You know what was said and respond according.  You “heed” what was said. 

Which way do you listen to the Lord?  You know God’s Word was just proclaimed.  Do you know what was said?  Are you open to being changed by what was said?

Baptism is a free gift given to us by God because He loves us.  Do we respond with love? 

In the second reading John reminds us, “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments.  And his commandments are not burdensome.”  In fact, I see his commandments as part of his gift to us.  They are a gift because they teach us to do what is good.

Do we truly desire to keep his commandments?  If we do, then we must listen to what Jesus teaches us.  We need to open ourselves to learning more fully what the commandments mean.

Here I mention the Fifth Commandment, you shall not kill.  We all know it.  Do we take it only at face value or we are we open to going deeper?  Here, I mention my webinar series that starts this week (information on this series and the link to register can be found at that will be a series of four webinars on the Pro-life teaching of our faith as found in the Fifth Commandment.

We ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand and live out what Jesus teaches us in the commandments that are found in God’s Word.

God gives us his Word for our reason.  At the end of the first reading today, we hear the Lord say, “my word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

We have our own way of doing things.  Sometimes that brings trouble.  We saw what happens sometimes when people get stuck in being “right” this week when the U.S. Capitol building was overrun by rioters.  We have a right to protest but it must be done not in self-centered righteousness. 

It’s not about what we want.  It is about what God wants.  For as the Lord says, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.”

God offers us something wonderful in baptism, true and eternal life.  If we wish to truly and fully receive this gift, we need to set aside our own way of thinking and follow the Lord, truly listening, truly heeding God’s Word.

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