Homily for the Baptism of the Lord 2022
For many of us this has been a somewhat rushed Christmas season. We have crammed a lot of celebrations into a short period of time. Add to this our ongoing adaptation to the pandemic and ways of making ourselves safe has placed a lot of pressure on us. Regardless, Emmanuel… God is with us!
The week before Christmas, I was standing in a lineup, socially distanced of course, to get my third vaccine shot. Standing there in line with so many others, as one of the crowd, waiting my turn to add to my own personal safety and the safety of others from the corona virus. This vaccine, given to us as a gift from God, encouraged by scientist, doctors, and our pope to receive it as a way to stand in solidarity against this war on covid 19. In my heart, I am so grateful for these vaccines and the people on the front lines who continue to work so hard to serve us both medical and non-medical people.
As I reflected on the Gospel for this weekend, I was drawn to how Jesus stood in line with many others to be baptized by John. John the Baptist. And so, the obvious question for us today is, ‘why did Jesus get baptized?’ It’s interesting to note that the Lord’s Baptism story appears in all 4 gospels. Baptism which literally means “to dunk,” Jesus was of God and human and without sin so why bother? There are three reasons:
- To inaugurate or begin his public ministry of service. In many cultures, there is a rite of passage before the beginning of anything major. Think of First Day of School… pictures are taken… marriage… ceremony… ordination…several years of study and discernment or getting a driver’s license and so on. The baptism of Jesus was an ‘official beginning’ of ministry… to head out on the road to cure the sick, help the poor, raise the dead… to reconcile one another.
- Jesus wanted to join onto the ministry that John had already begun. Jesus is showing his gratitude to John for his great work in bringing others to God. No doubt John was a mentor to Jesus… John the ‘dunker’ knew in his heart his own role… of what he was to do. John subordinates himself to Jesus and we see this in all 4 gospels. John states, “I must decrease so that he many increase…”
- Jesus is taking his place in humanity…an act of humility. Jesus chooses to be with us as ‘one in the crowd’. Or another way to say it: “God chose to stand in line with us.
My dear friends, the gospel ends with the group and Jesus baptized, a dove descends upon him and God says, “you are my beloved Son… with you I am well pleased.” This is the Father’s approval of Jesus and his forthcoming ministry. Since we were created in the image and likeness of God, the Father says the same thing to us: “You are my beloved child… son… daughter… with you I am well pleased.” So here is today’s challenge for us on this last weekend of Christmas: “How are we the beloved child of God?” I want you to really think about it. Or put this way… what is one experience that we have of God’s love? Or how do we know that God is well pleased with us?
- Have I been affirmed in our vocation as a mom, dad, sister, brother, friend, parishioner, wife, husband, partner, co-worker?
- Have I experienced the happiness of a pet who is always so grateful to see me… no matter what?
- Have I appreciated the beauty of nature… after this winter storm. The blueness in the sky and rivers around us?
- Have I received a smile or a wave from across the way… a good deed done for you or that you do for another?
- Am I missing a good friend who is away or a loved one who has gone home to God?
- Or have I experienced the goodness that comes from this faith community?
Again, as I stood in line for my last vaccination, I was grateful for that moment… knowing that God loved me and humanity so much that again, God gave us a vaccine. And yet, it’s not complicated nor difficult to experience God’s love. Think of your own example because you have them. In fact, most of the evidence of God’s love comes from very simple experiences… such as a sunny day after a snowstorm or standing in a line with others! Amen.