Monday, 9 January 2023 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today on this day we mark the occasion of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which also marks the last day of the entire Christmas season in our liturgical calendar and year. It means that after the more than two weeks of celebrations since Christmas Day, beginning tomorrow, we shall enter into the Ordinary Time of the year. Of course traditionally Christmas is still being celebrated all the way up to the second day of February, the fortieth day since Christmas, marking a traditional forty days of Christmas season. But this day marks that transition from our focus and emphasis on the birth of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, and into His ministry and works in this world, with the moment of Baptism marking that significant new beginning and change.

If we recall our Scripture readings of the previous days, it was leading up to this moment of the Baptism of the Lord, when the early life stage of Our Lord, growing up from a Child to adulthood ended, and then, the Lord finally entered into the beginning of the mission and works that He had been sent into this world for. That Baptism at the Jordan marked the moment when He was also revealed yet another time, to St. John the Baptist and those present at His baptism, Who He really is. The Lord Jesus indeed had no need for purification or baptism, but yet, He still shared in the same Baptism that all of us as members of the Church had gone through, not because of His sins or impurities, which He had none, but because He wanted to share with us His death and Resurrection, to bring us into the promise of eternal glory and life.

The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ at the Jordan symbolically marks the beginning of His ministry of bringing all of us, the lost sheep and flock of God back to Him, because Christ is our Good Shepherd, Who has come into this world to seek for us and to gather all of us back into God’s loving embrace. He has gathered all of us, and shares with us our human existence and life, so that, by also sharing our common Baptism, He may lead us all through the waters of death and rebirth, just the way the people of Israel went through the Red Sea, walking through the water, from their slavery in Egypt and the desolation they had there, into the freedom that God had promised them, and the promise of happiness and joy in the Promised Land that God had promised them and their forefathers.

Now, as we celebrate this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we are all called to remember the moment of our own baptism, when we were received into the Church whether as infants or as adults. If we were too young to remember any details because we were baptised as infants, then we should go and find out more about that important moment from our godparents and/or those who were there to witness our baptism, especially while they are still around us. The moment of baptism is something that is essentially as important as our own birthdays, just as the Lord Jesus said in one occasion to Nicodemus, the faithful Pharisee, that to be His followers and disciples, is like one that is born again through the Spirit, and baptism is that moment marking our rebirth into this new life and existence.

How about us? Do we remember our baptism and do we keep it as an important event in our lives? Do we celebrate it the way we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord today in this Feast day? Or do we just let it be a mere footnote and another event in our lives, and not paying more attention to its significance and importance to us? All of us as Christians must recall our Baptism with the same vigour and zeal just as we rejoice and celebrate this Feast today, and also remember the baptismal promises that we have made then, and renewed every year at Easter. Many people could not even remember the date and time of their baptism, and this tells just how little importance we assign to that moment which should have been a truly groundbreaking, memorable and watershed moment in our lives and existence in this world.

The reason why we remember our baptism is also not just so that we recall what we have promised, but also a reminder that we have to continue carrying on the way of life that is expected of us as baptised Catholics, as members of the Lord’s One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Baptism is not the end of our journey as Christians, especially for those of us who went through the process of initiation into the Christian faith through a period of discernment and catechumenate, and it is not the pinnacle of our Christian journey. Rather, baptism marks that new beginning in our lives in which we have begun a new path of life and existence, dedicating it all to Christ, and striving our best to follow Him in our path of life. Just as the Baptism that the Lord Jesus experienced at the Jordan began His ministry formally, our own baptism should be the point marking the new beginning of our lives.

It means that we are all called towards a better and holier existence, one that is more attuned to the Lord and to His ways and His truth. We are all called to answer God’s call in our lives, making good use of whatever provisions and gifts, blessings and graces that He has given to each one of us. As Christians, we cannot be idle believers, as those who are idle and do nothing at all, are those whose faith are lukewarm and without sincerity, and in the words of St. James, faith without good works and deeds is essentially a dead and useless faith, the faith of a hypocrite that does nothing for the person, and is of no use when we have to account for ourselves on the Day of Judgment. The Lord has given us all His blessings, graces, various talents and abilities so that we may make good use of them for the benefit of others, our fellow brothers and sisters all around us.

Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, as we rejoice today in this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let us all spend some time to reflect on whether we have been truly faithful to God in our actions and deeds, in our way of life and believing in Him. If we have not been truly faithful and devoted to Him, then the time is now for us to really consider and discern our path going forward in life, and we should spend the time to think of how we can better glorify God by our lives and actions, in each and every daily moments and at all opportunities. Let us all strive to draw ever closer to God and to remain firmly committed to walk the path towards His salvation and grace, fulfilling and ever being mindful of our baptismal promises. May the Lord, by Whose Baptism we have been saved, through His suffering and death on the Cross, and by His glorious Resurrection, empower us and strengthen us that we may always ever be faithful to Him, now and always. Amen.

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