Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMVIII Jan. 13, 2008

Homily — Baptism of the Lord MMVIII            Jan. 13, 2008

The Church has from ancient times celebrated Jesus’ Baptism as an adult only a few weeks after celebrating his birth at Christmas, even though there is a span of 30 years between the two events in the Gospel.

And while at first, the two feasts might not seem to have that much in common, if we look closer we see how appropriate it is to celebrate them one after the other.

For at Christmas, Christ is born a man; at the Baptism Christ is re-born, Sacramentally.

At Christmas, we see the Mother of Jesus in Silent Wonder looking down at her new born Son as He lies in the Manger;

At the Baptism, we “see” the Father of Jesus, not Silent but for the first time in the whole New Testament Speaking in praise of His Son as He comes up from the Water; this is my beloved Son, listen to Him.

At Christmas, we see the Magi opening up their treasures before Jesus, never to take back the gifts they give Him.

At the Baptism, we see God the Father opening up the Gates of Heaven for Jesus and us His disciples, never to shut them again, and never to take back His gift of the Holy Spirit.

And from the Baptism of Jesus on, every Baptism is a second Christmas, because at every Baptism Jesus is sacramentally born again in the hearts and minds of the newly baptized Christian.

And just as in the Incarnation, God’s Eternal Son, the Second Person of the Trinity sealed Himself indelibly to a human soul and body in the Person of Jesus Christ, so in the Sacrament of Baptism, you and I are sealed indelibly with the love of God.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the section on Baptism, speaks about this Seal of Baptism:

1272  Incorporated into Christ by Baptism, the person baptized is configured to Christ. Baptism seals the Christian with the indelible spiritual mark (character) of his belonging to Christ. No sin can erase this mark, even if sin prevents Baptism from bearing the fruits of salvation.  Given once for all, Baptism cannot be repeated. . . .

1273 . . . .  (This) baptismal seal enables and commits Christians to serve God by a vital participation in the holy liturgy of the Church and to exercise their baptismal priesthood by the witness of holy lives and practical charity.

But while we are sealed with the love of Christ at Baptism, the gift we are given at Baptism is just like the baby Jesus — we must care, nurture, feed and protect it in order for it to grow to maturity.

On this Feast of the Lord’s Baptism, may we give thanks to Jesus for being born for us a Baby in Bethlehem on Christmas, and especially for being born again in us on the Day we were brought to the Font and Baptized in Christ.

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