Monday, 9 January 2017 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we commemorate the Feast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ, which falls after the Solemnity of the Epiphany, the moment when Jesus was revealed to the world for the first time through the actions of the Three Wise Men or the Magi. These events mark the ending of the season of Christmas today, as the readings of the Scripture shift from the events surrounding the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, into one that begins His earthly ministry.

The baptism of our Lord Jesus at the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist was a momentous event which marked the beginning of our Lord’s work on earth, to fulfil the mission which He had been sent into this world for. Jesus was then thirty years old, fully grown as a Man, endowed and blessed with all the good human upbringing that His mother Mary and His foster-father St. Joseph had given Him throughout all those years.

Thus the baptism of our Lord Jesus can be seen as the coming of age event, through which a formal beginning of the ministry of the Saviour of the world was marked. After the baptism, the Lord went on to prepare Himself through fasting for forty days and nights before He was ready to set forth and teach the people the Good News of God.

It is indeed a reminder of our own baptism that we celebrate this feast of the Baptism of our Lord today. Let us ask that simple question, which answer has often stunned many of us Christians until today. What does our baptism mean to us, brothers and sisters in Christ? What is its significance to us, to our faith and to our respective lives? And indeed, can we remember the day of our own baptism?

If we cannot remember the day of our own baptism, then it means that we do not care how important is baptism and the moment of baptism to all of us. Baptism is very important and indeed crucial to us, as Jesus Himself had demonstrated through His own baptism, that each and every one of us, through baptism, received the grace to become the sons and daughters of God. For God, through His Son Jesus Christ, have made us to share in His baptism, as His brethren.

And what is baptism about? There are many symbols used in baptism, primarily which is blessed and holy water. It is a symbol of cleansing and healing, representing how Jesus was baptised by St. John the Baptist at the Jordan river, and also how the people of Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea, when God brought them out of Egypt, and also later on when He brought them to the land of promise, opening up the Jordan river for them to pass through.

It is a symbol of the destruction of our past and sinful lives. We have been immersed in the water just as our Lord Jesus was, and we share in His death together, His death on the cross. And water is also a symbol of life, for water is needed for us to continue living. Thus, it is also a symbol of our sharing of the Lord’s glorious resurrection from the dead, that each and every one of us who have been baptised now have in us the promise of everlasting life Jesus had made to His disciples.

The holy oil of chrism is a reminder of the anointment which our God had given us, just as He had anointed His Messiah or Saviour, to be the One through Whom salvation would come into this world. We receive the Holy Spirit through Him, and the Spirit of God Himself lives inside of us. And therefore all of us have been made the Temples of the Holy Spirit, the Temples of God. For God Himself is amongst us, and He resides within us.

We received the candle lighted with the flame from the Easter Candle, and this is the representation of the Light of Christ, the Risen Lord, through Whom we have seen the true Light and rejoice, because we have been living in the darkness, and He has come to save us all from the darkness of this world, and bring us into a new world of light.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all today remember the day of our baptism, and if we were still then too small and too young to remember what happened, then at least let us all reflect on all the significance of our baptismal ceremony and what it means for us all Christians to become the sons and daughters of God by our baptism, which we share with the Lord Jesus, our Lord and God.

And most importantly, we have to remember that just as Jesus began His earthly ministry by His baptism, each and every one of us as Christians have been entrusted with the divine ministry by our Lord Himself, Who tasked us all to go forth and to bring the Good News to all the peoples of all the nations. And we need to do this by being genuine disciples and followers of our Lord, and by practicing our faith through real actions, through our good works.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He also strengthen our faith, which we have with us ever since the day of our baptism. May we all grow stronger in our conviction and desire to serve Him, our Lord and Master, and be more courageous and dedicated in the mission which He had entrusted to all of us. God bless us all. Amen.

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