Home » Gospel Encouragement – 9th January 2021 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Gospel Encouragement – 9th January 2021 – Feast of the Baptism of the Lord

Dear sisters and brothers,

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Baptism of The Lord. This Feast marks the end of the season of Christmas and the beginning of ordinary time. Today’s feast is one of great joy for me personally. I have found that one of the greatest joys in my ministry thus far is celebrating baptisms. Indeed, I had the great joy of celebrating a baptism just the other day. The family were so joyful, and they were dancing and singing for joy. Baptism is truly a joyful and wonderful Sacrament in which we receive a new life, the life of grace, which enables us to enter into a new personal relationship with God for all eternity.

The word baptism comes from the Greek meaning ‘to be immersed’. Pope Benedict XVI reminds us of this when preaching on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord several years ago.  He said that the Son of God, who from all eternity shares the fullness of life with the Father and the Holy Spirit, was immersed in our reality as sinners to make us share in his own life, that is to make us divine: he, Jesus Christ was incarnate; he was born like us; he grew up like us; and, on reaching adulthood, manifested his mission which began with his Baptism by John the Baptist. Jesus’ first public act was to go down into the Jordan, to be amongst repentant sinners, in order to receive this Baptism. John was naturally reluctant to Baptise him, but Jesus insisted. And we might ask ourselves, why did Jesus insist on this? After all, he did not need to be baptised.  He is God and, therefore, without sin. Well Jesus insisted on Baptism to fulfil all righteousness, in other words to fulfil the will of the Father. And this is what we are called to do, to fulfil the Father’s will in whatever situation, vocation or place God has called us to, be it married or single life; priestly or religious life; at work, at home or at school. Whatever situation we can possibly think of we are called to fulfil the Father’s will. Now this is not always easy, but we must always try as best we can.

Our Lord’s Baptism marks the beginning of his public ministry.  This is when he becomes a public figure, the moment from which people begin to take notice of him. And when we think about this it makes perfect sense that Our Lord’s public ministry should begin with Baptism, because our own Baptism marks the beginning of the Christian life and the gateway to the other Sacraments.

Our Lord is Baptised and then what happens? Well, we are told that the heavens are opened, the Spirit descends like a dove and we get the testimony of the Father, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’  Here we have an Epiphany.  The word Epiphany means manifestation, so this is a manifestation of the whole Trinity that we see, that we celebrate. We have the voice of the Father, the Son incarnate being Baptised and the Holy Spirit descending in the form of a dove, all revealing that Jesus Christ is God and saviour of the world.

In Our Lord’s Baptism we have an image of what happens in our own Baptism and indeed in every Baptism. When you are Baptised, you become a child of God, an adopted son or daughter of God. And the Father looks upon you at your Baptism and says, ‘You are my beloved Son’, ‘You are my beloved daughter.’ And so, in Baptism, we truly can call God our Father. The Holy Spirit comes upon us at our Baptism, and fills us with his gifts, with grace. And we are then called to go out and, throughout our lives, live out our faith and practice our faith so that God the Father will say to us, as he said to Christ at his own Baptism in the Jordan, ‘with you I am well pleased.’

This is also what we prayed for in the Collect at the beginning of Mass: ‘Almighty ever living God, who, when Christ had been Baptised in the River Jordan, and as the Holy Spirit descended upon him, solemnly declared him your beloved Son, grant that your children by adoption (that is us!), reborn of water and the Holy Spirit, may always be pleasing to you.

On this feast of Our Lord’s Baptism let us pray that we may continue to be cleansed.  That by being ever more perfectly conformed to Christ, we might emanate and show the radiant light of Christ throughout this community and throughout the whole world.

Amen.

We pray that you have a blessed week.

With every blessing,

Fr Simon and Deacon Liam