Baptism of the Lord
Readings: 1s t: 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 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, or email@example.com.
Today is the celebration of the Lord’s Baptism. It marks the end of the Christmas season, Year A. Providentially, the Lord’s Baptism comes at the beginning of the year. It celebrates God’s gratuitous call to us to belong to his flock. It is a way of reminding us of who we are. That is members of God’s great family through our baptism in Christ.
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According to Catholic Catechism, “Baptism cleans us from Original Sin, and makes us children of God (CCC 1213).” Therefore, today, we must reflect on our baptism. This is mainly on how faithful we have kept our baptismal vows. Are we still saying, “I do” to questions like: “Do you reject Satan? Do you reject sin? Do you believe in one God and one Holy Catholic Church? Do you believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten son of God? How faithful have we been to these vows?
Our first reading from Isaiah is a prophecy about the Messiah. This was fulfilled in the gospel of today during Jesus’ baptism. The Spirit of God rested on Him and bore testimony that he is the son of God. In this reading, we see the Trinitarian God united in action. God the Father spoke thus: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” The Holy Spirit bore witness to this by resting upon the son as a dove. They worked together to initiate the redemption of humanity through the water of baptism.
In our second reading, God extended His grace of redemption to Cornelius and his entire household as he did to us through the same water of baptism. Surprised about the love and mercy of God, Peter testified: “The truth I have now come to realize is that God has no favorites, but anyone of any nationality who fears God is acceptable to him.” This shows that the water of baptism does not segregate. It is for all who are willing to pass through it.
In today’s gospel, although Jesus is greater than John the Baptist, He allowed John to baptize Him. The most important lesson here is that Jesus tried to underscore the importance of baptism to our redemption and life as Christians. It is not a “mere sign.” Instead, it is a sacrament that leaves an indelible mark on the receiver. This is the sign or mark which God sees and testifies: “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased!”
By receiving the baptism of the Baptist, Christ manifested his full humanity. In order words, he shows us to what extent he fully identifies with us. Ordinarily, baptism was unnecessary for Jesus because “he was like us in all things, except sin” (Heb 4, 15). He was not affected in any way by Original Sin. However, as he insisted, his baptism was “to fulfill all that righteousness demands.” It is a sign that Christ was ready to go through any ordeal for our salvation. He was to seal with his blood on the cross, which he initiated through the water of baptism today. Through his baptism, he sanctified the water of our baptism.
Therefore, today the church calls us to renew our baptismal vows to God. This is important so that God may continue to say of us this year: “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”
Peace be with you!