Sunday, January 10, 2016

Baptism word, 10 Jan 16

For Our Confidence
Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord C (10 Jan 2016)
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
At Epiphany we immediately recall the star that guided the magi to adore the infant Jesus. That is because we inherited the Roman church’s ways of worship. Epiphany elsewhere, especially older, eastern parts of the church, celebrated Jesus’ baptism. Worldwide the church still savors Christmas, Epiphany, Jesus’ baptism and even his miracle at Cana1 as first revelations of God’s goodness to us.

North of Rome an early bishop preached when Epiphany there still recalled Jesus’ baptism. He said:

Reason demands that this feast of the Lord’s baptism, which I think could be called the feast of his birthday, should follow soon after the Lord’s birthday, during the same season, even though many years intervened between [his birth and his baptism].2

What might we take for ourselves this week from our celebration of Jesus’ baptism?

Our triune God is beyond our power to know. That is why we call God mystery. Yet the All-holy Mystery desires to communicate divine life to every person. One of the best known gospel verses describes both the desire of God and the way God reveals: God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.3 

Jesus, God in flesh and blood, reveals—communicates—God to us in ways we can know and understand. I hear someone ask, Jesus did not need baptism, did he? He did not need it; his baptism made all waters holy so our baptisms may transform us into his bold witnesses for the sake of our world. That same early bishop put it this way: “Christ is the first to be baptized…so that Christians will follow after him with confidence.”

It is difficult to be confident today. It is difficult to be confident witnesses of Jesus. We have inherited a way of knowing that might be described in three words: knowledge is suspicious. Humans suspect what cannot be measured, seen, heard, touched, smelled, tasted. When we consider our experiences we know some of them escape our usual ways of knowing. We cannot box love, fear, guilt. Nor can we inject wisdom, courage, good judgment and a sense of awe before the All-holy Mystery. Those and other spiritual gifts God freely offers us; ours is to welcome them and to live from their power.

Jesus joined our human nature to his divine nature. As we consider Jesus being baptized or see an image of him in water with John and Holy Spirit descend[ing] upon him in bodily form like a dove we can grow more confident as his witnesses. How? By noticing that God reveals God’s self to us through what we can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. The divine life, the grace, we receive is more real. The power of grace enlivens us the more we welcome it and let ourselves be reshaped by it.

At his baptism Jesus began publicly revealing God who gave him for our sake and the sake of our world. Jesus did so with equal confidence and concern for everyone. At our baptisms we die into Jesus and share his life. Baptism freely gives us grace to begin to “follow after him with confidence” and continue his mission through our lives everywhere we find ourselves.

In your daily 15 minutes with Jesus this week
  • Ask our triune God to renew and deepen your sense of being joined with Jesus.
  • Ask Mary, Joseph and John the Baptizer to present you to Jesus to watch him be baptized for you.
  • As you watch chat with him: express what rises on your heart as you watch him be baptized for you.
  • Beg for the grace to live your baptism with renewed confidence and in inviting ways.
  • Close saying slowly the Lord’s Prayer. Each time we say it it reminds us Jesus desires us to model his inviting, welcoming way. His words, our daily bread, include his Spirit he gives us to do that.

Link to this homily’s Spiritual Exercise
  1. John 2.11.
  2. Sermon 100.
  3. John 3.16.
Wiki-image: Adoration of Magi, detail by Giovanni Dall’Orto CC BY-SA 2.5 IT Baptism of Jesus PD-US

No comments: