Homily – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, 2021

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Year B

The word ‘baptize’ from the Greek means ‘to immerse’. In the ritual of baptism, theologically, it is to be immersed or submerged, through the means of using water, into the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As first among the Sacraments of Initiation, baptism initiates a person into the Church and has the stain of original sin washed clean …The word ‘immerse’ has yet another meaning – to involve oneself deeply.

Let’s think about this in the context of Jesus’ baptism, His life and ministry. The Catholic Church has taught and believed since its inception that Jesus Christ is truly God and truly man – having both Divine nature and human nature wrapped up into one miraculous union. When you think of God, think of Jesus. But, that does make it somewhat confusing – if Jesus is God why get baptized? Why does He need to be baptized? Short answer – He doesn’t. He does so for two reasons. First: as God, Jesus makes the waters of the Jordan River holy … and as such, by His eternal, divine nature, makes the waters of baptism sacred for all – even for us in our own day, for our baptisms. He makes the water sacred. Second: He is baptized so that He may fully identify with human beings. He identifies with sinners, though having no sin Himself. He enters our world – He fully immerses Himself into everything human, except for sin. Think about this … even as God He was born, laughed, cried, was hungry, thirsty, had human relationships … He suffered and died … Jesus fully immersed Himself in our world … He took on the fullness of our humanity – in His own human nature He shows how we are supposed to live. He involved Himself deeply in us …

Now, if by baptism we are immersed into Him – His death and resurrection and thus identify with Him – ought we not “involve ourselves deeply” in Him? Ought we not take on His mode of being? It has been said that if you want to know a man’s mind, listen to his words. If you want to know his heart, observe how he lives. Is our mode of being characteristic of a heart that identifies with Christ, with faith in Him and in our eternal destination? Could we say, without comprise, that our lives are immersed in Him? By that I mean … daily prayer, confession on a regular basis, devotions like Eucharistic adoration and benediction, novenas, the rosary … not just attending Mass but participating with mind, ears and heart … is it then evident in the way we speak to one another, how we treat one another and how we care for one another that we too, somehow, can identify with the sufferings of others like our Lord identifies with us. Immerse – to involve oneself deeply … Jesus immersed Himself in our humanity … may we immerse ourselves in Him – His mode of being, His grace … His holiness.

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