Homily, Sunday Baptism of the Lord, January 9 2022.

Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11
Psalm 104:1b-2,3-4,24-25,27-28,29-30(R. 1)
Titus 2:11-14;3:4-7
Luke 3:15-16,21-22

Noteworthy is the synergy that the first reading Isaiah 40:1-5,9-11 points to and prefigures the Gospel Luke 3:15-16,21-22; the Gospel is hidden in the first reading. The first reading finds its fulfilment in the Gospel.

In the Psalm 104:1b-2,3-4,24-25,27-28,29-30(R. 1) and in the second reading Titus 2:11-14;3:4-7 we find the explanations to this fulfilment and it’s implication in our lives as Children of God.

In the first reading, the voice that cries for preparation in the wilderness refers to John the Baptist, the fore runner of Jesus. He did his work very well. The Gospel confirms this when it says:

“So John declared before them all, ‘I baptise you with water, but someone is coming, someone who is more powerful than I am, and I am not fit to undo the strap of his sandals; he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

Yet, remember that John had created the expectancy of the messiah of whom Isaiah says, “Behold your God.”

So, John was part of the Isaiah’s prophecy that was fulfilled in the Gospel.

The second part of Isaiah’s prophecy(40:9b-11) that was fulfilled in the Gospel is about the messiah, whom Isaiah called God and describes as God and Lord.

This was confirmed after Jesus’ baptism, the Father testifies to His Divine Son-ship.

So, Isaiah was talking about John and Jesus. But, the main focus was on the messiah.

In the second reading, there is this appearance of grace for the salvation of all men that trains and helps us to live as God’s children.

That grace is the Lord Jesus, it is found in him. This is because at baptism, we are immersed in Jesus and that grace makes us Children of God, makes us divine.

In that baptismal grace, through Jesus we are redeemed and purified, in the Holy Spirit. This was out of his love and mercy and not majorly by our efforts. So,we were justified by grace.

These are what happens to the children of God in this world, and in their every worldly endeavors; in trouble and in progress. God’s grace leads us. God is with His own through Christ Jesus.

Reading through the Psalms, one sees these playing out.

By implication, the Holy Mother Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord to recall that day when Jesus, in solidarity with us, accepts baptism at the hands of John. This baptism is the deepening of His incarnation, His complete solidarity with us in our humanity.

Moreover, His baptism becomes another epiphany of His identity.

Today is a good day we recall our own baptism too, the day we became the Children of God, members of the Church, citizens of heavenly Jerusalem,joint heirs of the rich inheritance.

Today we recall our own identity. An identity filled and made with and in the Holy Spirit and fire. That fire must burn in our lives always by the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s stay connected with the Holy Spirit.

Today also, we rededicate ourselves to God and promise to give up everything like irreligion, worldly passions, hatred, envy, etc, that doesn’t come from and doesn’t lead to God, in order to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world.

Baptism begins our covenant relationship with God. Like all covenantal relationships (e.g. marriage), this relationship takes work. Make an extra effort this week to invest time and energy into your relationship with God and ask for His grace to help you grow closer to Him.

Like John, may we always prepare a way for the Lord by what we do and preach Jesus by our lives.

©Fr. Henrycharles Umelechi



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