Homily for Baptism of the Lord (1st Sun of Ord. Time), Year B

Restored to the Life of Grace through the Water of Baptism

Rdgs: (1st Is 55, 1-11; Ps [Is 12, 2-6]; 2nd 1Jn 5, 1-9; Gos: Mk 1, 7-11)

   This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“This sacrament is also called the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit, for it signifies and actually brings about the birth of water and the Spirit without which no one can enter the kingdom of God”(CCC 1215). Today is the 1st Sunday of ordinary time as well as the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This Sunday is like a bridge between two great cities. While it definitively marks the end of Christmas season, it equally marks the beginning of ordinary time of the year, B. Today, the Church reminds us of the fact that Jesus was baptized with water, anointed with the power of the Holy Spirit in order to bring healing, peace, and salvation to all nations. Today’s celebration affords us the opportunity to reflect on why Jesus, though God had to go through the water of baptism. Finally, it also reminds us of the efficacy of our own baptism.

While I was reflecting on the import of today’s celebration, I recalled two short, funny, but interesting stories from jokebuddha.com on baptism. First, once a father was in church with his five year old daughter. They sat in the very front row so that they could properly witness and appreciate the service. During this particular service, the Priest was performing infant baptism. When the girl observed that the priest was saying something and pouring water over a baby’s head, she curiously looked at his father and asked: “Daddy, why is he brainwashing that baby?” Second, before performing a baptism, the priest approached a young man and solemnly said: “Baptism is a serious step. Are you prepared for it?” The man replied, “I think so, my wife has made appetizers and we have a caterer coming to provide plenty of cookies and cakes for all of our guests.” The priest responded, “No, I don’t mean that, I mean, are you prepared spiritually?” Then, the man replied, “Sure! I have got a carton of beer and a case of whiskey.”

Viewed positively, the little girl’s question (though funny), to a great extent makes some sense. This is considering the fact that baptism holistically “washes away Original Sin.” It is actually a kind of “positive brain washing” which wipes out the stains of Original Sin” and restores us completely. On the other hand, like the man who was busy preparing for a party instead of baptism, many of us are yet to comprehend the actual efficacy of baptism. Baptism is not only a sacrament instituted by Jesus it is also, a huge source of grace and blessing. Furthermore, it presents a dynamic experience for those who choose to follow Christ. Baptism is a “very simple Sacrament.” It is “simple” in Form, Matter, character, and even in its administration. However, the fact of its simplicity does not diminish its efficacy. As the priest rightly said, “Baptism is a serious step.” In fact, it is the foundation and most powerful of all other sacraments, because without it other sacraments cannot stand. Its simplicity is what makes it a universal sacrament of grace and life which cleans us of Original Sin and restores us to our original state.

The first reading of this Sunday from the prophet Isaiah is a special and universal invitation to all of us to come to Christ the Living Water who through his own baptism has sanctified our own water of baptism. This living water is Christ in whose name we were baptized. This is a universal invitation because no one is left out.  It is special because it has no barrier. Instead, it is open to all nations, and most especially to those who are truly thirsty. It applies to those who through many worldly entanglements are experiencing dryness; to those who are truly open to the salvation that God offers through his only begotten son Jesus Christ. Hence, it is a call to accept God’s offer of salvation by believing in Jesus Christ the living water.  

In our second reading, John calls our attention to the importance of believing in Jesus Christ. Most importantly he highlighted three entities that bear witness to the sonship of Christ: Water, Blood and Spirit. Every day we are tainted by sin both inwardly and outwardly. In light of this, the water of baptism which Christ brings continues to be efficacious in our lives. Christ continues to wash and regenerate us through the water of baptism, the power of the Holy Spirit and of course, through his precious blood. In the words of Henry Matthew (Bible Commentary): “This water and blood include all that is necessary to our salvation. By the water, our souls are washed and purified for heaven and the habitation of saints in light. By the blood, we are justified, reconciled, and presented righteous to God…The water, as well as the blood, came out of the side of the sacrificed Redeemer. He loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water…” (Eph 5:25-27).

The gospel highlights the core of our celebration today, the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist. Christ had to be baptized in order to make a way for us, in order to purify the water of baptism in which we ourselves were to be bathed. This is because, as the first among his brothers (Rom 8, 29), he always takes the lead in order to show us the way as Rick Founds sang: “…You came from heaven to earth, to show the way; from the earth to the cross, my debt to pay; from the cross to the grave, and from the grave to the sky; Lord, I lift your name on high!”  By accepting to be baptized, Christ purified the water in which we are baptized. The baptism of Christ therefore is the stepping stone for our own baptism. He cured the water and gave it the capacity of washing off Original Sin. Today’s celebration then, is a means through which we are reminded of God’s saving help and kindness to us. It reminds us that what Adam and Eve destroyed by Original Sin, which brought us damnation, has been repaired through the water of baptism. 

While Jesus was baptized with water, the Spirit of the Father bore witness or better still, confirmed that he is truly the son of the Father. This is equally what happens to us, not only at baptism, but on a daily basis. As we continue to walk with God and do his will by fulfilling our baptismal promises, the Holy Spirit, equally continues to testify that we are sons and daughters of God. As true Christians and children of God washed in the water of baptism, we must hear the voice of our Father every day in our lives testifying: “this is my beloved son / daughter in whom I am well pleased.” However, this can only be if we persist in fulfilling our promises as Christ did. Therefore, as we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today, let us renew our own baptism by remembering those promises we made unto the God in the name of Jesus Christ. Let us recommit ourselves to Christ in whose name we were baptized today. Let us cast off the old and Adamic nature corrupted by Original Sin and wear the new life of grace conferred on us by baptism (Eph 4, 20). Finally, with joy let us draw living water from Christ, the well of salvation (Is 2, 3).

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

Homilía del 6 de Enero, Año B

La Epifanía del Señor: Viviendo el Ejemplo de los Tres Reyes Magos

Lecturas: (1o: Ish 60, 1-6; Sal: 71, 1-2.7-13; 2º: Eph3, 2-3.5-6; Ev: Mtt 2, 1-12)

Este breve reflexión fue escrito por Padre Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. El es un sacerdote Católico y miembro de la Congregación de los Padres y Hermanos del Espíritu Santo (Espiritanos). El trabaja en la Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico y Republica Dominicana. Para más detalles y comentarios contacto él en : canice_c_ njoku@yahoo.com o canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Queridos hermanos y hermanas,  antes mi breve homilía para hoy, deseo dar gracias y apreciar nuestros los jóvenes y hijos por sus drama excelente cual ayudado nos para entender mucho más el evangelio de hoy. Agradecimos también nuestros los Sembradores que preparado ellos para este drama maravilloso. Por favor, de pie y damos otro fuerte aplauso para ellos.

Hoy celebramos la solemnidad de la Epifanía y en una manera más especial (aquí en Puerto Rico), el día de los Reyes Magos que trajeron a Jesús los regalos muy costosos y simbólicos de oro, incienso y mirra. El término Epifanía es de origen Griego, “epiphaninen.” Es un verbo que significa “revelar”, o ” manifestar”. Celebra las muchas maneras a través de cual Dios ha revelado su mismo a nosotros y a nuestro mundo. Estos incluyen los tres eventos que trae a la luz su misión y divinidad: la visita de los Reyes Magos (Mtt 2, 10-12), el bautismo de Jesús (Mk 1, 9-11) y el milagro de Caná (Jh 2, 1-11).

Así pues, hoy, Dios revela él mismo a nosotros, porque él es bueno y amoroso. La luz que brilla sobre nosotros hoy es la luz de vida. Es una luz desde la que nosotros mismos debemos obtener nuestra propia luz y brillar sobre demás. Hoy el Señor Jesucristo se extiende y expande el horizonte de su amor a nosotros por no ser egoísta. En lugar de eso, el Señor permite su luz para iluminar las tinieblas de nuestras vidas. La lección de todos estos es que también tenemos que hacer nuestra vida mejor y permitir que la bondad, que fluye a través de nosotros ayudar a los demás. Debemos iluminar nuestra luz para que otros puedan ver con él, como Cristo ilumine nuestro camino y vida este Nuevo año con su propia luz, vida, consejo, y presencia divina.

El Evangelio de hoy de Mateo como hemos visto en el drama presentado a nosotros por nuestros jóvenes y los hijos es sobre la visita de los tres reyes magos. Ellos vinieron para adorar y ofrecer regalos al recién nacido Rey, Jesucristo. Este evangelio (y drama) está llenos de muchas lecciones por nos aprender. En primer lugar, los tres reyes vinieron para ofrecer a Cristo una verdadera adoración como el Rey de los reyes. Por lo tanto, nuestra adoración debe ser sincera y de nuestros corazones como el de los tres reyes magos. No debe ser como la propuesta de la adoración de Herodes que era falso.

En segundo lugar, debemos estar preparados para ofrecer algo a Jesus. Nosotros no debamos aparecer ante el señor con las manos vacías. Así pues, debemos preguntarnos hoy, ¿Qué ofreceré al Señor por su bondad para mí? El único regalo que debemos ofrecer a Dios por su bondad para nosotros es nosotros mismos, es también: un regalo de vida buena, un regalo de amor, un regalo de obediencia, un regalo de humildad, un regalo de paz a nuestras familias y mundo, y un regalo de sacrificio por el otro. Además, debemos aprender a ser generoso a los demás como los tres Reyes Magos a Jesús. Hoy (niños), como esperan regalos de tus padres tratan a ser generoso a los demás también especialmente  hacia sus los padres. Los padres, seamos también generosos hacia nuestros hijos, hoy dándoles regalos como los sabios reyes dieron a Jesús.

Finalmente, otra lección que debemos aprender de los Reyes Magos es que debemos seguir la estrella y luz que Cristo nos muestra. Esto significa que no debemos permite nosotros mismos ser engañados o distraídos en nuestro viaje por “los Herodes” en nuestros camino . Confiando que Dios no inducir a error o confundir a nosotros, debemos seguir su estrella y luz en nuestras vidas y a lo largo de la parte de nuestro viaje a eternidad. Cualquier momento estamos confundidos o venir a la encrucijada de la vida, debemos buscar y esperar hasta que aparezca la estrella de Cristo que nos muestre el camino que debemos proceder. Esto es simplemente lo que podemos se refieren a como la guía divina y consejo divina en nuestras vidas. Hoy por lo tanto, pedimos  a Dios como su iglesia: Padre, guíanos con tu luz. Ayúdanos a reconocer a Cristo en la Eucaristía y darle la bienvenida con amor, porque Él es Señor para siempre. Amén!

¡Que viva Rey Jesús! ¡Que viva Rey Magos! ¡Que viva Puerto Rico!

Felicidades a todos ustedes.

La paz sea con Ustedes.

Maranatha (Ven Señor Jesus)!

Homily for Epiphany of the Lord, Year A, B & C (2)

Living the Example of the Wise Kings

Rdgs: (1st: Ish 60, 1-6; Ps: 71, 1-2.7-13; 2nd: Eph3, 2-3.5-6; Gos: Mtt 2, 1-12)

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Epiphany, and in a most special way the day of the three kings who brought Jesus the very costly and symbolic gifts of gold, Mire, and frankincense. The term Epiphany is of Greek origin, epiphaninen. It is a verb which means “to reveal,” or “to manifest”. It celebrates the many ways through which Jesus has revealed himself to us and our world. These include the three events that bring to light his mission and divinity: the visitation of the three kings or Magi (Mtt 2, 10-12), the baptism of Jesus (Mk 1, 9-11), and the miracle at Cana (Jh 2, 1-11).

So today, God reveals himself to us because he is good and loving. The light that shines forth upon us today is the light of life from which we ourselves must get our own light and reflect it unto others. Today the Lord Jesus Christ further extends and expands the horizon of his love to us by not being selfish. He allows himself to illumine the darkness of our lives. The lesson in all of these is that we must also make our lives better and allow the goodness that flows from us help others. We must brighten our light so that others can see with it as Christ illumines our way and life this New Year with his own light, life, divine presences and counsel.

The gospel of today from Matthew as we have seen in the drama presented to us by our youths and children is about the visitation of the three wise kings. They came to adore and offer gifts to the new born king, Jesus Christ. This gospel (and drama) is full of many lessons for us to learn. First, the three kings came to offer Christ a genuine worship as the King of kings. Therefore, our worship must be sincere and from our hearts like that of the three wise Kings. It must not be like the proposed of worship of Herod which was false.

Second, we must be ready to offer Jesus something. We must not appear before the Lord empty handed. So, we must ask ourselves today, what do I offer the Lord for his goodness to me? The only gift we must offer God for his goodness to us is ourselves, the gift of good live, the gift of love, the gift of obedience, the gift of humility, the gift of peace to our families and world, and the gift of sacrifice for one another. Also, we must learn to be generous to others as the three wise kings did to Jesus. Today (children), as you expect gifts from your parents try to be generous to others too especially towards your parents. Parents, let us also be generous towards our children today by giving them gifts as the wise kings gave to Jesus.

Third, another lesson that we must learn from the wise kings is that we must continue to follow the star and light that Christ shows us. That is, we must not allow ourselves be deceived or distracted on our journey by Herod. Trusting that God will not mislead or misguide us, we must continue to look out for his star and light in our lives and along the part of our journey to eternity.

Any time we are confused or come to the cross roads of life, we must seek and wait until the star of Christ appears to show us the way we must proceed. This is simply what we may refer to as divine guidance and counsel in our lives. Today therefore, we must ask God as the church prays: Father, guide us with your light. Help us to recognize Christ in the Eucharist and welcome him with love, for he is Lord forever and ever. Amen!

Long live King Jesus, Long live the wise kings!

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!