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Homily for Baptism of the Lord Jan. 8-9, 2011

posted Jan 10, 2011, 1:20 PM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

Baptism of the Lord

St. Mary's, Huntingburg

January 8-9, 2011

 

 

            Today, we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

We recall how Jesus came to John the Baptist at the River Jordan to be baptized.

But the Baptism of Jesus immediately leads to an obvious question ... and it's the question that John the Baptist himself asks:

Why?

Why would Jesus come to be baptized?

Why would the sinless Son of God come to receive the "baptism of repentance" from John the Baptist ... like the crowd of sinners who were coming out for baptism?

Jesus had no sin ... and so he had nothing to repent of ... nothing to be forgiven for ... nothing from which  to be washed clean.

And so ... why the baptism?

 

            Well, we have to remember exactly what we've been celebrating in this Christmas season.

In that little baby born in the manger, we celebrate this truth:

God became flesh.

God became human ... he "took on" our humanity ... he became "one of us."

The Son of God was born in human form in that manger in Bethlehem.

Jesus was both truly God and truly man.

 

            And now, as he begins his public ministry, the Son of God made flesh ... Jesus ... takes the next step.

He comes and rubs elbows with all of those sinners.

Although he himself is innocent, he mingles with them  ... he identifies himself with them ... he makes himself one of them.
And, like all of those who need to be washed clean, he goes down into the waters of baptism ... not because he needs to ... but because we need for him to.

We need for the sinless Son of God ... to become one of us ...

We need for him  to take on our flesh ... to take on our sin ...

We need him to take on the burden ... the penalty ... the punishment ... for our sin ...

... and ultimately to die for us on the Cross ... so that we can be freed of sin.

Because ultimately ... only a God who has become human ... can pay the price for our sin ... yours and mine ... and the sin of all the world ... the sin of all of history.

            In his baptism in the Jordan, Jesus reveals an important truth about his own mission.

But he also tells us something important too about our baptism.

The sinless Son of God goes down into the baptismal water as a human being like us ... to reminds us that when we sinful human beings go down into the baptismal waters we rise a son or daughter of God like him.

The Divine One goes down into the baptismal waters as a human being to become one with sinners ... we sinful human beings go down into the baptismal waters ... and come up one with God ... that is, sharing in the divine life of Jesus.

When we rise from the waters of baptism ... God can say of us ... as he said of Jesus: "This is my Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

 

            It's really an astounding statement. 

What we celebrate in this Christmas season is the amazing good news: God became human that you and I might become divine ... that is, that we might share in his divine life ... become adopted sons and daughters of God ... as Jesus is the Son of God.

During Offertory of the Mass, before he holds up the chalice, the priest pours just  a little water into the wine, and he says:

"By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ, who humbled himself to share in our humanity."

"... may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity."

You and I are the beloved sons and daughter in whom God is well-pleased.

 

            But with that amazing reality comes a tremendous responsibility ...

With the good news comes a daily challenge ... a lifetime task ...

In the early church, the challenge was put like this:

Christian, remember your dignity!

Christian, live the divine life that has been given to you!

Live like a son or a daughter of God!

Remember who and what you are ... and let your daily actions ... your priorities ... your relationships ... be guided by that identity ... by that truth ... by that reality.

 

            The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord tells us about the beginning of Jesus' ministry ... and it reminds of our daily commitment to live our dignity as a sons and daughters of God as we begin this new year!

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