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HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
HOMILY THEME: THE BEAUTY OF DEATH
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
“And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17.
Just yesterday, we celebrated the Epiphany of Jesus Christ, today, we are officially bringing the whole Christmas Season to an End with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus Christ. Tomorrow, we shall return to Ordinary Time again.
St. Maximus of Turin beautifully sums up the essence of our celebration today in these words: “At Christmas, Jesus was born a man; today he is reborn sacramentally. Then, he was born from the Virgin; today he is born in mystery. When he was born a man, his mother Mary held him close to her heart; when he is born in mystery, God the Father embraces him with his voice when he says: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased…” The mother caresses the tender baby on her lap; the Father serves his Son by his loving testimony. The mother holds the child for the Magi to adore; the Father reveals that his Son is to be worshiped by all the nations.”
Our celebration of the baptism of Jesus reminds us of the meaning of baptism, the fact that we too were baptised and the demands of our baptism. What does it mean to be baptised? As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3. To be baptised is to be born again and unless we die, we cannot be born again.
Long before the era of the Gospel of prosperity, long before the era of “I receive it,” the most common question on the lips of Christian brothers and sisters was: “Are you born again?” Yes, that was the era when people could actually say, “I have seen the light” because their lives were truly transformed; sin no longer held sway in their daily routines.
Unfortunately, things have changed today; too much water has passed under the bridge. No one sees the light anymore, it is now about “how I was poor before, now I am stingingly rich.” It is now about how this miracle or that miracle which I had been praying for over the years eventually happened. Testimony time today is now about how I sowed this seed or made this offering and how God “multiplied” it.
Christianity today needs repentance. Yes, all of us who still call ourselves Christians today need to return to the basics; we need to thoroughly re-examine our mind- sets and those things we cherish most in life. We all need to be born again; our preachers must change their theologies and start telling us the hard truths we must hear rather than what we like to hear – that man’s greatest enemy is sin not poverty.
Enough of “soul-winning” (which in essence is just “filling up the church with people”). Our churches are full already, now, we need to move to the next level; we need to start producing living saints.
Enough of empires and mansions, enough of business centres in the name of the church, enough of schools, hospitals, banks, and so on and so on. Now is the time to tell ourselves the truth that it is not our money-making-enterprises that will sustain our churches but Faith. Christianity as we practice it today needs to die and become born again.
Nonetheless, Christianity would not die unless we Christians die. (Christianity would not change unless I first change). This death is concretized in the baptismal promises to which we respond “I do.” I reject Satan. I reject everything that Satan has to offer. I refuse to listen to Satan’s promises. I reject the glamour of evil. I reject any sinful habit. I walk in the light.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may my faith affect what I do even in secret. Amen
Happy Resumption from the Holiday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. The Baptism of Jesus Christ. (Bible Study: Isaiah 42:1-7, Acts 10:34-38 and Matthew 3:13-17).