jtemplate.ru - free extensions for joomla

January 13, 2019 - Identity, Mission, Destiny

The Baptism of the Lord

Scripture Readings

(Fr. Satish is in India with his family. This homily was originally preached 2012). 

How about I begin my homily with some Trivia Questions? 

Jesus did not baptize anyone – True or False? 

Jesus’ disciples did not baptize before Jesus resurrection – True or False? 

Jesus was baptized because before his ministry he needed his sins forgiven – True or False?

Here are the answers. First, Jesus personally did not baptize anyone (Jn 4:2); his disciples did baptize (Jn 4:2); Jesus was baptized by John not because he needed his sins to be forgiven, but rather, by his baptism he was bringing all of humanity to God. By his baptism the waters of baptism are made holy. No matter how we look at it, the baptism of Jesus becomes a signature event in his life. The birth of Jesus, the epiphany, and the presentation of Jesus in the temple are all meant to lead us to the climactic events of Christ’s life – his ministry, his suffering death and resurrection. More particularly his baptism marks the beginning of the climactic events of his life.  

Let me stress three points today. 

1. There are three things that are determined at Jesus’ baptism: his identity, his mission and his destiny. First, Jesus’ identity. At the baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and a voice is heard, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” That voice was for Jesus’ own sake and the sake of the people around him. For Jesus, it confirmed his personal relationship with Jesus and for those around him it was confirmation of who Jesus was. His baptism confirms Jesus of his identity as the Son of God. Second, Jesus’ baptism confirms his life-project or mission. We see that mission laid out in the first reading. Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “He shall bring forth justice to the nations….” He will be “a light for the nations, to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.” During his life of earth this is exactly what Jesus would do. He would bring healing from illnesses, liberation from senseless religiosity, freedom from the shackles of power and oppression and salvation from sin and death. Because of Jesus you and I can have our sins forgiven and hope to spend eternity with God. And third, the baptism gave Jesus his destiny. Because he is Son, not only did Jesus know where he came from but also where he was going. In the midst of all the opposition, suffering and death, it perhaps his destiny that kept him focused. Knowing his destiny he is able to fulfill the task of our redemption.  

2. Where do we come into the picture? What does the baptism of Jesus mean for us? The answer is best given in today’s second reading. Paul says in his letter to Titus: “He [God] saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.” In other words, our baptism is the point of contact with Jesus Christ. In other words, if we can appropriate any of the benefits of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus – baptism is what does it. When we are baptized we are baptized into the life, death and resurrection of Christ. By our baptism Jesus identity becomes our identity; his mission becomes our mission; his destiny becomes our destiny. Yes, in Christ, we are now sons and daughters of God, we are now sent forth on a mission and our destiny is eternity with God.  

3. Baptism, however, is not magic. Jesus not only had to appropriate his identity, mission and destiny but he had to consciously live it out. With Jesus there was no compromising his identity, mission and destiny. Jesus lived it all the way to the cross. If you and I ever wonder what spirituality is or what prayer life is all about then the answer can be found in the baptism of Jesus and our baptism. Spirituality is about appropriating and personalizing the identity, mission and destiny of Jesus. Spirituality is about consciously living out the identity, mission and destiny of Jesus in our life. To use of parish mission statement, spirituality is about thinking like Jesus, talking like Jesus and acting like Jesus.  Prayer is about oneness with Christ as we live our daily life. Sometimes we will fail but most of time we may succeed.  

The Eucharist is one way in which we can personalize and live out the identity, mission and destiny of Jesus. What we do once in a life-time in our baptism, we celebrate each week in the Eucharist. Let our participation in this Eucharist, not only make us like Jesus but make us one with him, Amen. 

- Fr. Satish Joseph