YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE FEAST OF THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD
THEME: …THEN YOU WERE GOD-FEARING, BUT NOW GOD FEARS YOU
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
HOMILY: First reading – Is. 40:1-5,9-11
Second reading – Titus 2:11-14.3:4-7
Gospel – Lk. 3:15-15.21-22
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (C.C.C) No. 1831 listed fear of the Lord as the last of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Certainly, by fear of the Lord, we do not mean that fear that causes people to flee from every thought and memory of God, as someone who disturbs and upsets. Of cause such was the case of Adam and Eve when they disobeyed God; and such too was the case with the wicked servant who in Matt. 25:28 hid in the earth the talent that he received. The type of fear we mean is that sincere and reverential feeling that a person experiences before the tremendous majesty of God, especially when one reflects upon one’s own infidelity and the danger of being found wanting at the eternal judgment which no one can escape. Fear of the Lord is a gift which the Holy Spirit bestows on the innocents of heart who are God’s delight. Today that we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord; we note the voice of the Father identify Jesus as…my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.
Like Jesus, we too were God’s delights on the day of our baptism. Some of us were baptized as infants; imagine that kind of innocence, harmless and purity of mind. And even those who were baptized as adults, we would appreciate the mystery of baptism washing away sins if we take some time to pay attention to the rites of baptism in the Catholic Church. From the anointing, exorcism, to the receiving of the white garment, a symbol of purity and sinlessness, we are sure that at our baptism, we are truly made children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ who isthe firstborn of all creation – Col. 1:15. No doubt, the Holy Spirit descended on us as did on Christ and the voice of the Father resounded again saying of us …Behold Christian Eze (if you like put your own name), my beloved son with whom I am well pleased. At that moment, whether as infants or adults, we had the fear of God in us. We were God’s delight, we were eager to be obedient to God’s law. But what becomes of us afterwards? An important question is: if God should speak of me today, would he still identify me as His beloved son in whom He is still well pleased? As it stands now, I think, God would say of so many he used to be my son, but he has sold his birth rights. I don’t know him any more; anyone who listens to him is on his own. Then he had the fear and reverence for me, now, I am afraid of him. What exactly do you think God would say of you?
Remarkably, Jesus remained the Fathers delight to the end. He was like us in everything but sin. No wonder the voice resounded again on the mountain of the transfiguration. No wonder he went about doing good and working wonders Act 10:38. Could your present difficulties be as a result of your deciding to cease from being God’s delight? St Paul admonished us not to be foolish to waste the Spirit we received: Are you foolish enough to end in the flesh what you started in the Spirit? Then you had the fear of God in you. Now you no longer fear God, rather God fears you. Trace back from where you started. Recall your innocence when you received your baptism.