Homily: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Year B God's love for us.

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Homily: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

 

Reading 1: This is what I known as the Suffering Servant Song in the prophecies of Isaiah. There are four sections. We heard the initial statement: “Here is my servant, my chosen one with whom I am pleased.” This connects us to the Gospel event of Jesus’ baptism. Likewise, the next statement: “Upon whom I have put my spirit.”

 

Then we heard that this Servant will bring forth justice which is salvation. But he will do this not through doing violence.  He will be a light for the nations, which means that his salvation is not just for the Chosen People but for Gentiles as well.

He will manifest a variety of signs and wonders as a confirmation of who he is and what he will accomplish.

 

Is it possible that this is one of the passages which Jesus read or heard in the synagogue which convicted and confirmed for him in his humanity of his call from God?

 

Gospel:  Mark is very succinct and concise even though the event of Jesus’ baptism is rich in meaning.  Jesus, prior to this moment, came to a clear conviction in his humanity of the Father’s love for him and a clear conviction of his own call by God to be the long-awaited Messiah. He was sinless and therefor didn’t need the baptism of John for the purpose of manifesting any forgiveness and repentance.

 

For Jesus his baptism by John was a public way of saying yes to the Father’s love and call to publicly begin his ministry. Jesus is baptized because he has taken upon himself the sins of the world. He is not a sinner, but he is solidarity with sinful humanity. His baptism is an anticipation of his baptism of suffering on the cross.

 

As Jesus comes out of the water, the Spirit comes down from heaven. This is a foreshadowing of the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus in his humanity is filled with the Spirit. He is anointed and empowered for ministry. The Father’s voice is a confirmation of his love for Jesus. It is the kiss of the Father. It is a divine moment in the human life of Jesus, which would sustain him at different times, especially on the cross.

 

 

For everyone else, John’s baptism was an outward sign of one’s repentance of sin and a sign of expectation or preparation for the Messiah, who had already come, but was not yet manifested. It was a public sign not a private one. But the baptism that Jesus’ offers is greater for he is mightier in person than John. He existed before John, as the Son of God before time began. He will baptize in water and the Holy Spirit.  The sins of those baptized will be forgiven and removed and the person will share the very life of God.  The Spirit of God will come and dwell within the person baptized.

 

Reading 2: Background. Cornelius is a Roman Centurion in Caesarea. He was a God-fearing man. He has a vision and in that vision an angel told him to invite a man name Peter to his house for he had a word from God for him. Likewise, Peter had a vision in which he was told that nothing was unclean for him to eat.  Afterwards the servants sent by Cornelius arrive inquiring for Peter. Realizing that this is a sign from God, Peter goes with them to Cornelius’ house.

 

It was forbidden for a Jew to enter into the home of a Gentile. But because of his vision Peter felt compelled to do so. Cornelius shared his vision. Peter then began to share the Gospel proclamation that Jesus is Lord and Savior. Upon hearing the message, the Spirit came upon Cornelius and his whole household. As a result, they spoke in tongues and prophesied, like the Apostles had experienced on Pentecost. Peter took this as a confirming sign from God and baptized them      

 

What was the message Peter proclaimed? What we just heard! The key part of his proclamation, the Kerygma: Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior.  Do we not only believe this but surrender to the Lordship of Jesus over us? And if we do, will our life this week reflect this reality in a public way as our witness of our own baptism and life in Christ? 

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