Baptism of the Lord
Readings: 1st: Is 40:1-11; Ps: 103; 2nd: Titus2:11-14. 3, 4-7; Gos: Lk 3:15-16. 21-22
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Today we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This feast marks the definitive end of the Christmas season and the formal beginning of the ordinary time of the church’s liturgical cycle. Today’s celebration recalls the history of the Lord’s baptism. In a unique way, it reminds us of the importance of the sacrament of baptism in our lives as Christians.
The first reading today is a message of hope and consolation to all God’s people. Christ, the anointed one of God, is with us to bring us healing. Most importantly, he is here to restore our peace. Isaiah puts it this way, “Console my people, console them, here is the Lord coming with power, his arm subduing all things to him, the prize of his victory is here with him.” This is precisely the ministry for which Christ was anointed and empowered by the Holy Spirit during his baptism.
In our second reading, Paul reminds us through his letter to Titus that “God saved us by the cleansing water of baptism and by renewing us with the Holy Spirit which he poured over us through Jesus Christ, our savior.” Indeed, through his baptism, Christ sanctified and opened the fountain of baptism for us. He also initiated our redemptive process. Hence, through our baptism in Christ, we are admitted into the redemptive process for our salvation.
In today’s gospel from Luke, God the Father testified: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” During this baptism, God anointed Christ with the Holy Spirit and empowered him for his mission of bringing healing and peace to all nations. Christ was baptized to underscore the importance of the sacrament of baptism as the foundation for all other sacraments.
However, it is 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. Also, he did not need cleansing from any sin through the baptism of John the Baptist. The letter to the Hebrews tells us that “Christ was like us in all things except sin” (Heb 4:15).
So, He was not tainted in any way by Original Sin due to the fall of Adam and Eve. According to Matthew’s account, Christ gives us the reason for allowing himself to be baptized: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this, to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt 3, 15). Therefore, by accepting to be baptized, Christ manifested his full humanity without undermining his divinity. In order words, he fully identifies with us, and His baptism was a sign of solidarity with us
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In conclusion, on this day, therefore, we need to reflect on our baptism. We need to reflect especially on how well we have observed and kept our baptismal vows. How faithful have we been to God in terms of keeping these promises? Are we still saying “I do” to our baptismal vows? Today the church offers us a new opportunity to renew our commitment to Christ in whose name we were baptized. While we reflect on Christ’s baptism, let us ask God to renew his spirit in us.
Peace be with you!