(“Baptism of Jesus” sermon by Deacon Carlos Londono, Queen of Apostles Catholic Church in Pewaukee, WI.)
Today the Church celebrates the Baptism of the Lord. We celebrate that the Lord Jesus is the one and the only one. At his Baptism, when the Lord came up from the water, the voice of God the Father introduced Him to us saying: “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased.” We don’t have many instances in which God the Father himself points at someone saying: “this is the one!” The prophet Isaiah, in the first reading, speaks about Jesus on behalf of the Father saying: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased.” In the second reading, Paul also speaks of Jesus as “… the Lord of all [whom] God anointed with the Holy Spirit and power.” In other words, Isaiah, Paul and most importantly the very same God the Father are all pointing at Jesus and telling us: “He is the one! Listen to Him! His words are worth paying attention to: they give life! His actions give life as well: learn from them!”
Now, the question is: what further witness do we need?
Today we also renew our Baptismal promises. To do this is to tell Isaiah, Paul and even God the Father: “Yes, to what you are saying! I believe that He is the one, that what He says gives life and that what He does gives life as well.” This is what being a Christian means: to give one’s own life a “decisive direction”, that of the Lord Jesus, striving to say the things He said and do the things He did: to have the same sentiments as Christ! And not because He is a cool guy, or a wonderworker or a skilled preacher.
No! We are baptized Christians because we believe that He is God! That He has Power; that He forgives sins, that He can give us His Own Body and Blood as food… that He destroyed death itself!
A group of seminarians (myself included) were greatly blessed to spend 8 days in the Holy Land. We left on New Year’s Eve and got back this past Thursday. On Wednesday, we had Mass at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Right underneath the altar where we celebrated Mass was the empty tomb of Jesus and I was thinking during mass: “This is it! This is what it is to be a Christian, to believe that they left Him here dead and a few days later He left this tomb alive; He moved this rock away and walked out of this tomb by Himself, filled with Power and the Holy Spirit.”
Had that not happened there would be no mass, no church, no baptism, no priests. Because that happened we are here today celebrating that He is the one, that He is God, that He walked away from that tomb alive and that we are baptized in His name, that is, He gets to tells us what is right and what is not: His words give life, His actions give life: we bend our knees at the name of Jesus.
My invitation today is one, if you accept to take it: that we go home after mass today and find, if possible, our Baptismal certificate and the date in which we were baptized and that we give thanks to the Father for the gift that we received that day: the gift of his Son Jesus Christ, the one and the only one.