The Baptism Of The Lord, Homily

Homily, Jan 9-10, 2016: Cycle C, Baptism of the Lord (Continuing the Mission)

Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord brings the Christmas season to a close and begins the season of Ordinary time, at least for a few weeks.

We have an interesting Gospel today about Jesus being baptized. Personally, I’ve always been intrigued with why Jesus thought it necessary to be baptized by John?  Certainly, He was not a sinner who needed to repent like so many of the others whom John baptized.

We are reminded in scripture that Jesus shared our human nature in all things but sin.  John himself said that Jesus should be baptizing him, not he baptizing Jesus. So, why did Jesus go into the River Jordan & let John baptize him?

Maybe we should begin by asking, “Why did all the other people respond to John’s invitation to be baptized?”

We know from other verses about John, that the people were impressed with John’s message; something about it resonated deep inside of them.  They were so attracted to his message that they came forward asking, “What are we to do?” What they were really asking was, “How can we be a part of what you are saying?”

After hearing John’s message of God’s love and the coming of the Kingdom, they wanted the presence of God to be restored to the world and they correctly reasoned that it had to be restored in them first.

They wanted evil to be defeated & reasoned again that first they had to defeat evil within themselves.

They wanted the Kingdom of God to begin in the here & now, and they were baptized to proclaim this Kingdom with their very lives. John had done his job well! He had ‘Prepared the Way of the Lord’, by opening their hearts.

Jesus saw & heard all of that. Jesus understood all of that and He agreed.  He joined them in their desires for the Kingdom of God.

He saw the pain that godlessness brought to mankind and wanted to be with all who sought God with all of their heart.

He saw the results of sin in the world and wanted to be united to all who would fight sin.

He knew that the Kingdom of God was beginning and that His mission was interwoven with it, that He was part of it and sought union with all who were willing to make a commitment to the Kingdom.

So, for all those reasons, Jesus came forward along with them for Baptism.

The significance of Jesus being publicly baptized was that He publicly accepted His mission, the mission that was the whole reason why He, as God, became man.

He began His public ministry with obedience to the Father and love for His people.

Jesus embraced His Mission, defeated the devil, established the Kingdom of God, and now He calls on each of us to continue His mission. He even sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us to strengthen us for the task.

You could really say that anytime we show love to others, we are continuing His Mission.

When we develop and use the particular gifts He has given to each of us to make the world better for others, we are continuing His Mission.

When those of us who are married put our spouses first before ourselves, we are establishing love as the motivation of life, like He did.

When those of us who have children empty ourselves, by doing without, or working longer hours so our children can grow into the reflections of God He created them to be, we are continuing His Mission. And, that can be a tough exercise. As I’ve said before, anyone who has lived through the teen years knows why in the wild some animals eat their young.

We should strive to be the best at whatever it is that He calls us to do in our jobs, careers, our vocations, our avocations.

And, make time to be kind to, and mindful of, those who are rejected by our society, such as the downtrodden, the socially unacceptable, those who are the butt of jokes at school, at work, in the community. When we do those things we are continuing His Mission.

We can respond to the grace to do something for someone else when the opportunity arises. It can be simple, like calling someone we haven’t seen in a while. It will make them feel like they matter. We can visit the nursing home across the street. It will bring life to them.

And, when we finally realize that we are not the center of the universe after all, but that Jesus is the Center, and He is our center, then we are on our way to being able to continue His Mission effectively.

Our Gospel concludes today, telling us that after Jesus was baptized, the voice of His Heavenly Father was heard to say, “You are my Beloved Son.  With you I am well pleased.”

The Father was pleased that Jesus embraced His Mission.  He is pleased when we embrace ours and thereby continue His Son’s Mission, in our time.

Some people think that life is meaningless, without purpose.  Well, we know why we were created and how we can live meaningful lives. Don’t we?

It’s not complicated: We can make a difference in the world by uniting ourselves to the One who changed the world with His Life.

And, when we do, we can continue His Mission.


“I would like to conclude today by thanking all of you here who supported our son on his journey to receive a full liver transplant. He returned home in Richmond Hill from Emory right before Christmas, complete with his new liver. He is doing well and so far is showing no signs of rejection thanks to the good Lord, your prayers, and the 21 meds he takes twice every day.

 “Faye and I want to thank all of you publicly for your prayers and support & point out that by your actions on our behalf you continued the Lord’s mission.”