Homily Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year C

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Homily Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Reading 1: Isaiah prophesied centuries before the birth of the Messiah who he would be and what he would do. He is the Servant of the Lord, the chosen One who is pleasing to God. He will be given of God’ Spirit to reconcile the world to God. He will be a light for the people, healing and freeing them from bondage.

Jesus later will show that he is the fulfillment of these words. “I have come to serve, not to be served.” “I have come to lay down my life for the salvation of all.”

God from the beginning of his ministry and throughout affirmed Jesus as his Chosen One, his beloved Son. We see this on the Day of Jesus’ baptism. The Father was heard saying: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And the Spirit of the Lord fell upon him, anointing him for ministry. From that day on, Luke tells us, that Jesus was led by the Spirit, teaching, healing and setting captives free.

Reading 2: Peter, like Isaiah identifies who Jesus is. He is Lord of all. Like Isaiah, he focuses on what Jesus did under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. He went about doing good, freeing all those oppressed by the evil one. But the most important identity is that God was with him, fulfilling what Isaiah said: God would uphold his beloved servant.

From Pentecost until this event in the Acts of the Apostles, the apostles only reached out and preached to the Jewish people. Now, God, through a vision told Peter that some servants from the house of Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, will come asking for him. He was to go with them. While Jesus did not enter into a Centurion’s house, this was a new moment in God’s plan of salvation. Peter was directed by God to do so.
Peter came to realize that God shows no partiality. The Good News of salvation is to be preached to the Gentiles as well.

The Church has chosen this reading for today because of its focus on the baptism of Jesus by John, fulfilling the prophetic plan of God for the salvation of all people. The baptism of Cornelius, a pagan, and his whole household confirms God’s plan and Jesus’ final commission to the Apostles: Go out to the whole world and baptize, teaching them all I have taught you.

Gospel: The baptism of Jesus is the inauguration of his public ministry. It is the public affirmation by the Father of Jesus’ relationship with the Father. It is the public anointing by the Holy Spirit, empowering Jesus in his humanity for the work of salvation.  It is a pivotal moment in the life of Jesus. Here, the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled.

Jesus, by being baptized, was stating his public yes to the Father’s call for him to be the Messiah. The Father received his yes and re-affirmed that Jesus was his Beloved Son. As part of this affirmation the Father anoints Jesus in his humanity with the power of the Holy Spirit for mission. This experience was the event that sustained Jesus throughout his ministry. No matter what he had to endure—rejection, condemnation, abandonment, a cruel death on the cross—Jesus knew that he was the beloved Son of the Father and that God was with him.

How important is our baptism for us? Do we know the date of our baptism? Do we celebrated it? Like Jesus it was the moment in time that the Father said to us: You are my beloved son or daughter. It was the time that God anointed us with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. In times of difficulties do we return to this experience, this truth: I am the beloved of the Father? If Jesus, the Beloved of the Father, could endure his sufferings knowing this, can I not do likewise because I am the beloved too?

We need to first thank God for the grace of salvation in Baptism. We need to thank God that we are his beloved. We need to renew our yes to live as the beloved. We need to follow the lead of the Spirit who is with us and in us.

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