Christ’s Baptism Source of Ours
Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
10 January 2021
by Dom Nicholas Spencer
In John 2 we read:“ Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”
On this Feast of the Baptism of the Lord it is good to meditate on the mystery of our own Baptism when by plunging into the waters of rebirth by anointing with the Holy Spirit we were delivered from the Kingdom of Satan and granted entry to the Kingdom of God.
The Baptism of Jesus is celebrated by the Church as one of the three manifestations of the Epiphany. The visit of the wise men to the child was in secret but at the Baptism Christ is manifest to all the people. John the Baptist preached a Baptism of repentance so the people could renounce their sins to prepare for the coming of the Christ who would baptize not with water only but with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
As the sinless Son of God Jesus obviously has no need to be cleansed of sin but by submitting to be baptized by John he begins his Passion. We are taught that when we are baptized we die to sin by immersion in the waters and rise with Christ as we emerge and are then anointed with the Holy Spirit.
As Christ tells us we need to be reborn into the Kingdom of God because by our natural birth we were born into Original Sin and under the curse of Adam could have no place in the Kingdom of God. But we can only be baptized because Our Lord was baptized first. By entering into the waters of the Jordan Christ shows to the whole people that as the Incarnate Son of God he has entered completely into our human condition, except for sin. By his Baptism he sanctifies the waters of rebirth so we too can be reborn. Although most of us do not remember our Baptism it was not just an entry rite to a club. By our Baptism our whole nature is changed and we are reborn.
Christ enters the waters but as he emerges the Almighty Father proclaims him as his beloved Son and the Holy Spirit descends upon him as a dove. Here we have the first public declaration of the Most Holy Trinity. At the Epiphany we are granted entry into the very mystery of the Godhead. As in Genesis the Father speaks the Word and the Spirit moves over the waters to bring Creation into being, so by the theophany at the Jordan we see the Father speaking to acknowledge his Son in the Spirit to bring about a new creation so that all who are washed in these sanctified waters may be recreated in Christ.
But our Baptism is not the end. A newborn baby has to grow; so we who were reborn in Christ have to walk with him, seeking to all the time convert our lives from sin to follow his holy commandments. We need to walk with him through his passion and death so we can rise with him in glory. At Holy Mass we enter as deeply as we can in this life into the mystery of the Paschal Mysteries for now Christ is truly sacrificed for us. Baptism prepares us to receive the most Holy Body and Blood of the Lord so we can be nourished on our way to eternal life.
“Christ is baptized: He comes up out of the waters and with Him He carries up the world. He sees the Heavens opened that Adam closed against himself and his posterity. The Spirit bears witness to His divinity, for He hastens towards His like; and a voice sounds from heaven, for it is from heaven that He has come down to whom this testimony is given, and He is the Saviour of our souls.”