Sunday, 12 January 2020 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday after the Solemnity of the Epiphany we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord which marks the end of the liturgical season of Christmas. Therefore officially the celebration of Christmas is over by the end of today and from tomorrow we will begin with the first part of the Ordinary Time of this current liturgical year cycle, that is until the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

On this day, the Baptism of the Lord at the Jordan River by St. John the Baptist is a symbolic reminder of the end of the Christmas festivities, as the Lord began His ministry in this world at the moment when He was baptised. He was no longer hidden from the world as it was when He was still a Child and during His early growing up years. After His Baptism, He began His ministry, through the forty days of temptation later on by the devil and then began gathering His disciples and started His works.

When the Lord was baptised, there were many things that happened which we should take note of, and how these are all significant for our understanding of both our faith and what we ourselves need to do as Christians, as those who believe that Jesus Christ, the One baptised by St. John that day, is truly the Lord and Saviour of the whole world. His Baptism proclaimed the truth of the coming of the long awaited Messiah, and fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet Isaiah in our first reading today.

In that prophecy, God showed how His Servant would come into this world, proclaiming His love and mercy, delivering His truth and liberating the people from the darkness and destruction caused by their sins. When Jesus was baptised, immediately the heavens opened and a Dove descended on Him, as the Holy Spirit descended on the Lord Jesus, and the voice of the Father could be heard, proclaiming that Jesus was truly the Son of God, the Beloved and Chosen One, sent into this world out of His love for us all.

In that very moment, we have actually witnessed through the Gospel passage, the manifestation of God’s plan for our salvation, as the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit came into that occasion in one place, showing how God would redeem His people by the giving of His Son to this world. And it was also very important that Jesus insisted to be baptised by St. John although the latter really wanted to be baptised by Jesus instead.

That is because through baptism, the Lord showed that by our common baptism, which we shared with Him, we have shared in His death with water being often associated with both death and life. And He also made the same connection as our baptism is, to the moment when the Lord led His people Israel through the Red Sea, passing through the water of the sea from their slavery in Egypt into the freedom towards the Land promised to them.

Thus, through His humanity, the Human nature He possessed in Him, Christ made His Baptism to be united to our own Sacrament of Baptism, when through the power and authority He bestowed on His Church and the Apostles, He made us all, who are baptised to be members of the Church, be it as an infant or as an adult through conversion, God’s own adopted children. That is because if Christ is the Son of God, and the Father called Him as His Son, we who have been baptised are also made the children of the Father, God’s beloved ones.

And brothers and sisters in Christ, that is not the end of it all. Instead, it is merely just the beginning, as I have mentioned earlier how Christ began His ministry after His Baptism, we too have also begun our new life in Christ and embarked on a new journey of faith from the moment we were baptised. Through baptism we have been marked as God’s own beloved children, and because of that, we have also been entrusted with the mission of the Church, to go forth and evangelise the truth which Christ has brought into this world.

Baptism is not the end of our faith journey, contrary to what some have been thinking. It does not mean that after we have been baptised that we are already saved by God and therefore had no more need to follow God’s will and do what He has told us to do. Rather, through baptism, we have been fundamentally changed in our being, as we have been made the spiritual children of God, and God has become our Father.

And if we are God’s children and He is our Father, is it not then just right and proper that we follow what our Father taught us to do? How can we call ourselves as God’s children if our lives are contrary to His will and if we do what is wicked and evil in His eyes? And if God is our Father, is it not right that we act in ways that conform with His ways and bring glory to His Name? This is our journey of faith that we began at our baptism.

Therefore today, as we mark the end of the Christmas season with this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord let us all focus on the moment of the Lord’s baptism at the Jordan, and unite it with our own baptism, if we can remember it well. For those of us who have been baptised as adults, try to remember that moment when the holy water of baptism touched us, either by immersion or at our foreheads. And for those of us who have been baptised as infants, ask our parents and/or godparents for that moment.

Let us all remember our baptism, its date and time, and more importantly, our promise at baptism which we renew at Easter every year. We profess faith in God as expressed in the Creed, in all its fullness and we profess that we will reject Satan and all of his lies, his advances and all the falsehoods he presents before us. And today, therefore, we are reminded by this moment of Christ’s baptism that we have our respective journeys ahead of us, and we need to do what we can to fulfil what God has called us to do through baptism.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all from now on be exemplary in our lives and dedicate ourselves to God anew, with the desire to follow Him, our Lord and Father because we are His beloved children. Let us all sin no more and try our best to obey the will of our Father and love Him more, just as He has loved us all so much that He has given us Christ, His Son to redeem us and to bring us a new hope. By our baptism, we have been made as partakers of this same hope and promise of eternal life.

May the Lord, our Father continue to watch over us and guide us in our journey of faith, and may He grant us the strength and courage to live our lives faithfully from now on so that we may become inspirations for one another in being good and faithful Christians. May all of us bear witness to Christ’s truth by our lives and do our best to serve Him at all times, devoting our time, attention and effort always as we journey together in faith as the members of God’s one Church. Amen.

Sunday, 12 January 2020 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Matthew 3 : 13-17

At that time, Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan, to be baptised by Him. But John tried to prevent Him, and said, “How is it, You come to me? I should be baptised by You!”

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be like that for now; so that we may fulfil the right order.” John agreed.

As soon as He was baptised, Jesus came up out of the water. All at once, the heavens opened and He saw the Spirit of God come down, like a Dove, and rest upon Him. At the same time, a voice from heaven was heard, “This is My Son, the Beloved; He is My Chosen One.”

Sunday, 12 January 2020 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Acts 10 : 34-38

Peter then spoke to Cornelius and his family, “Truly, I realise that God does not show partiality, but in all nations He listens to everyone who fears God and does good. And this is the message He has sent to the children of Israel, the Good News of peace He has proclaimed through Jesus Christ, Who is the Lord of all.”

“No doubt you have heard of the event that occurred throughout the whole country of the Jews, beginning from Galilee, after the baptism John preached. You know how God anointed Jesus the Nazarean with Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all who were under the devil’s power, because God was with Him.”

Sunday, 12 January 2020 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 28 : 1a and 2, 3ac-4, 3b and 9b-10

Give the Lord, o sons of God, give the Lord glory and strength, give the Lord the glory due His Name; worship the Lord in great liturgy.

The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over vast waters. How powerful is the voice of the Lord, how splendorous is the voice of the Lord.

The voice of the Lord makes the oaks shudder, the Lord strips the forests bare, and in His Temple all cry, “Glory!” Over the flood the Lord was sitting; the Lord is King and He reigns forever.

Sunday, 12 January 2020 : Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Isaiah 42 : 1-4, 6-7

Here is My Servant Whom I uphold, My Chosen One in Whom I delight. I have put My Spirit upon Him, and He will bring justice to the nations. He does not shout or raise His voice, proclamations are not heard in the streets. A broken reed He will not crush, nor will He snuff out the light of the wavering wick. He will make justice appear in truth.

He will not waver or be broken until He has established justice on earth; the islands are waiting for His law. I, YHVH, have called You for the sake of justice; I will hold Your hand to make You firm; I will make You as a Covenant to the people, and as a Light to the nations, to open eyes that do not see, to free captives from prison, to bring out to light those who sit in darkness.

Saturday, 11 January 2020 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day as we heard the words of the Scripture, on which we are reminded first of all on the matter of sin, which we must take seriously as sin is a serious obstacle on our way towards God the Father, and we have to be wary and be vigilant against our vulnerability towards those sins. And we must know how merciful God is towards us, as His love for us truly exceeds even the multitudes of our sins.

And God is calling on us to turn away from those sins and embrace His merciful and compassionate love. And He is also calling on us all today on the need for us to reach out to our brethren around us, to call on them and to remind one another on the need to realign our lives once again with God. The Lord has provided us with His truth through His Son, Our Lord Jesus as St. John mentioned in his Epistle in our first reading passage today.

We need to know that it is our Christian duty and obligation for us to reach out to our brethren who are falling out of their faith and path towards God. If we do not do so while we are perfectly capable of doing so, then we are actually partly to blame if they end up falling further and deeper into sin, because we have committed a sin of omission by our failure to act. We have to help one another in our journey of faith as we are bound to face challenges along this journey.

Now, we should look at the good examples set by St. John the Baptist in our Gospel passage today, as the inspiration and example we should hold up to, as we strive to become a better disciple and follower of the Lord. We all know how St. John the Baptist was vigorous in his works in calling on the people to repent from their sins and baptised many people at the River Jordan, which he still continued to do as we heard in our Gospel passage today.

That was when some of the disciples of St. John the Baptist came to him and complained that the Lord Jesus, Who was baptised by St. John the Baptist himself not long previously, was also baptising and getting more and more people to follow Him. The disciples made such a comment out of fear and jealousy, thinking of Jesus and His disciples as the rivals of their master, St. John the Baptist and themselves.

But St. John the Baptist was instead happy that more and more people were flocking to the Lord, and he reiterated what he has once told the Levites and the priests earlier on, that he was just a mere servant, whose role was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He humbly did his best and continued his works; and was happy that he was able to prepare the way well for his Lord and Master, the One Saviour promised for the salvation of the world.

The attitude and dedication of St. John the Baptist are the things that all of us as Christians must be inspired to adapt and follow well, as first of all, as what we have discussed earlier, the Lord has called on us all to be caring for one another and to help those who are falling away from His salvation and grace. And then, the humility which St. John the Baptist clearly exhibited is a good reminder for all of us that we are all serving the greater purpose and for the greater glory of God and not for ourselves.

Are we able to do the same in our own lives, brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we able to do our best in our respective lives that our lives may glorify God, and especially in our contributions as members of God’s Church, that we may inspire others around us whose faith are lukewarm and are in danger of slipping further and further into sin. Do not allow pride, greed and other negative things into us, as the devil is hard at work trying to distract us through the many temptations present all around us. Let us follow the humility and dedication showed by St. John the Baptist.

Hopefully we may become bright beacons of God’s light in this darkened world, to help lead everyone to God, that all of us will be saved together and live forever in God’s presence. May God be with us always. Amen.

Saturday, 11 January 2020 : Saturday after the Epiphany (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

John 3 : 22-30

At that time, Jesus went into the territory of Judea with His disciples. He stayed there with them and baptised. John was also baptising in Aenon, near Salim, where water was plentiful; people came to him and were baptised. This happened before John was put in prison.

Now John’s disciples had been questioned by a Jew about spiritual cleansing, so they came to John and said, “Rabbi, the One Who was with you across the Jordan, and about Whom you spoke favourably, is now baptising, and all are going to Him.”

John answered, “No one can receive anything, except what has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ Only the bridegroom has the bride; but the friend of the bridegroom stands by and listens, and rejoices to hear the bridegroom’s voice. My joy is now full. It is necessary that He increase, but that I decrease.”