Homily For First Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year C

The Baptism of the Lord

Readings: 1st: Is 42:1-4, 6-7; Ps: 28; 2nd: Acts 10:34-38; Gos: Lk 3: 15-16. 21-22

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 with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico &  Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Dioceses of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on:  canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com. 

Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast marks the definitive end of Christmas season and the beginning of ordinary time. Today’s celebration recalls the history of the Lord’s own baptism. In a special way, it reminds us of the importance of the sacrament of baptism in our lives as Christians.

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In the first reading from Isaiah, God presents his Son as the chosen and anointed one. Isaiah puts it this way: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit…” This is a Messianic prophesy.

This prophesy prefigures the baptism of Christ, the anointed Son of God. Of course, it was fulfilled in the gospel at Christ’s’ baptism in the New Testament. Through his baptism, Christ was anointed and prepared for his earthly ministry.

Our second reading from Acts is part of Peter’s speech at the house of Cornelius the gentile centurion. Cornelius and his household believed in Christ and were baptized. This reading highlights the importance and necessity of baptism as the sacrament that make one a Christian and a child of God.

Also, it highlights the fact that God accepts anyone (Jew or gentile), who truly believes in Christ. Peter says: “I now realize how true it is, that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation, the one who fears him and does what is right.”

In today’s gospel, God the Father testified: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” At his baptism, Christ was anointed with the Holy Spirit. This prepared and empowered Him for his earthly mission of bringing healing and peace to all nations.

It was necessary for Christ to be baptized in order to highlight the importance of the sacrament of baptism as the foundation for other sacraments. However, it is very important to note that the definition of Baptism as: “The sacrament that washes away Original Sin,” does not in any way suggest that Christ was affected by Original Sin. Hebrews tells us that: “Christ was like us in all things, except sin” (Heb 4:15).

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So, He was not affected by Original Sin due to the fall of Adam and Eve. According to Matthew’s account, Christ gives us the reason his baptism: “It is proper for us to do this, to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3, 15). Therefore, the baptism John the Baptist, Christ simply manifested his full humanity, yet, without undermining his divinity.

In order words, he fully identifies with us. So, His baptism was a sign of solidarity with us. It was a sign that he himself was ready to go through any ordeal in order to save us. Importantly, through His baptism, Christ initiated our redemptive process, which he will finally seal with his blood on the cross.

Finally, today we need to reflect on how we have kept our own baptismal vow. How faithful have we been to God in terms of keeping this vow? So, today the church offers us a new opportunity to renew our commitment to Christ in whose name we were baptized. So, let us ask God to renew his spirit in us.

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!

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