Homily Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year A Following the Spirit

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Homily:  Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year A

Reading 1: This passage from Isaiah, along with two others, is identified as the Suffering Servant of Yahweh song. First of all, it identifies one who is coming as the Servant of God, chosen by God; one who is pleasing to God; one upon whom God places his Spirit. It is out of this relationship with God that this Servant will act.

His identity comes from his being not from his doing. His identity comes from his relationship to God. It comes from what God does for him rather than what he does for God. He is called by God, formed by God, set as a covenant by God, as a light by God. Only because of what God has done and his relationship with God does the Servant of God act. He will bring forth justice, not through force, but by his teachings. He will heal and free those imprisoned. In faith we identify this Servant as Jesus.

Likewise our identity is to be one in relationship with Jesus. Like Jesus in his humanity, to be fully who we are, we are to be in relationship with God. It is out of this relationship that we are called and sent to act and live. God is pleased with us because of who we are, his chosen ones, not because of what we do.

Gospel: From a rational, logical, human point of view it doesn’t make sense that John should baptize the Messiah: One capable of sin baptizing One not capable of sin; the lesser the greater. But what if it is God’s plan and mystery?

John tried to prevent Jesus from being baptized because he recognized Who Jesus was and who he himself was in relationship. But Jesus recognized the plan and purpose of the Father and he desired to be obedient. How often Jesus encountered road blocks or misunderstanding, even innocently to the Father’s plan for him. Each time he was obedient to the Father’s will.

Sometimes the will of God is hard to understand. We are called to embrace it because it is the will of God. Without acting on the will of God, John would not have experienced what followed: the voice of the Spirit.

This even confirms for John who Jesus truly is: the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He prepared for Jesus’ coming; he spoke about him. Now he can identify him. An awkward moment turns into a clarifying moment, but only when John is willing to be obedient to the Father’s plan.

Reading 2: Peter identifies Jesus as the Lord of All, as the One anointed by God with the Holy Spirit and power. Out of this identity Jesus went about doing good, healing all. God was with him. Peter had just manifested the plan and power of God. Then He saw the power of God at work.

Cornelius and his whole household experienced the grace of Pentecost. The Spirit of God anointed and empowered them. That is why Peter said that God shows no partiality. In God’s plan both the Jews and the Gentiles were to receive the same grace of salvation and anointing.

Then Peter roots this experience in God’s revelation centered upon the person and action of Jesus. The end result is the external baptism of Cornelius and his family.

What God did for the Apostles and for Cornelius and family, God wants to do for each of us. It flows out of our identity as beloved sons and daughters. Peter learned an important lesson, namely, one is to follow the anointing of the Holy Spirit. In speaking his prophetic message about the Servant of God, Isaiah was being obedient to the lead of the Holy Spirit. In baptizing Jesus, John followed the lead of the Holy Spirit. Peter in entering the home of a Gentile and in baptizing them was also following the lead of the Holy Spirit.

In Confirmation we received the anointing of the Holy Spirit and as disciples in relationship with Jesus we are called to be attentive and responsive to the grace of the Holy Spirit.

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