Homily for the Baptism of the Lord - Year B - Mk. 1:6-11


by

Father Daniel Meynen
 
 

"Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, 'After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.'


"In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, 'Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.' "





Homily:


"Now John was clothed with camel's hair, and had a leather girdle around his waist, and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, 'After me comes he who is mightier than I, the thong of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.' "


It is the feast of the baptism of the Lord! The Christmas season has already come to an end... We have joyfully celebrated the expectation, and the coming, of the Lord into the world, we have tried to keep in mind all that the Lord has done for us during these thirty-odd years of his existence which were lived in the most complete silence and in the most perfect isolation...


Now is the time to live with Jesus, proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God! Now is the time to share in the glory of the Lord, acclaimed by all as the liberator of Israel! But it is also the time to follow Jesus as he bears his Cross all the way to Calvary, in order to enter forever into the Glory of his Father, who is in Heaven...


For this is baptism: to bear one's cross, following Jesus, while already being glorified with the Lord who is seated at the right hand of his Father, in Heaven. Baptism resurrects us, not in order that we might stop suffering, but rather so that we might suffer with grace, with love, and if possible, with joy... Baptism crucifies us in the joy of the Spirit!


John the Baptist baptized in water; Jesus now baptizes in the Holy Spirit. For it is the Spirit of Love who, on the morning of Creation, hovered over the waters (cf. Gen. 1:2), and it is this same Spirit of Love who led Jesus to offer himself (cf. Heb. 9:14) out of Love, to his Father, for all men... Water is but a sign that passes and that flows as it goes on its way; the Holy Spirit remains forever, ceaselessly reminding us that one day this water had flowed...


"In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, 'Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased.' "


Jesus is our Savior: he is free from any sin. So then why does John baptize him? Quite simply, in order for Jesus to have in himself the memory of this unique act. For, then, in his action in all places and times, the Holy Spirit can insert this act of the baptism of Jesus into the memory of the entire Church, understood in a total and complete manner, that is, as both Head and Body.


Let us not forget: the Holy Spirit is there to remind us ceaselessly of all that the Lord has said (cf. Jn. 14:26) and done (cf. the breaking of the bread in Lk. 24:30-31). When the Church baptizes in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God is there to remind the Church that the Lord Jesus, too, was baptized: the Holy Spirit thus invites the Church to relive the humility of her Master, in order that she might be able to share, one day, in the Glory of his Resurrection!


Sometimes there are Crosses that one must bear for a long time; but often, when we accept them willingly, our Crosses do not last very long. Here, Jesus was quickly glorified by his Father: Jesus humbled himself before John the Baptist, and shortly afterwards, his Father manifested his Omnipotence and his Love for Him! But above all, it is the Holy Spirit who comes to manifest his presence, visibly, corporeally, under the form of a dove!


The Holy Spirit is the divine Person who is closest to each of us. Did he not become the Spouse of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary at the Incarnation of the Word? Now, what is more intimate to the human person than the relation between husband and wife? Of course, the three divine Persons are inseparable, and if one of them is close to us, then all three of them are. But it is especially the Holy Spirit who is there, in the depths of our heart...




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