Homily for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Year A

Is 42:1-4 & 6-7 - Acts 10:34-38 - Mt 3:13-17

by Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen


Baptism in the Holy Spirit



Is 42:1-4


Is 42:1, Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2, He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3, a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4, He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.


"I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit." (Mk 1:8) So speaks John the Baptist. And in today's first reading, the Prophet Isaiah, speaking in the name of the Lord, says: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations." (Is 42:1) Thus, if we are baptized in water, like Jesus, it is so that, being but one Body with Christ, we might be filled with the Holy Spirit, immersed in Him, and become, in a certain sense, bearers of the Holy Spirit, like Christ.


We can receive this baptism in the Holy Spirit through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Above all, we can activate and intensify this presence of the Spirit in us through prayer, humble, confident, persevering prayer, prayer that asks the Lord Jesus to come ever more into us: "The Spirit and the Bride say, «Come.» " (Rev 22:17)


The Spirit is there, in us, in order to call Christ ever more into us; and the more Christ comes into us, the more the Spirit urges us to call the Lord Jesus! This is why John the Baptist says: "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Matt 3:11) A fire that is none other than that of the judgment of God, of which the Prophet Isaiah speaks several times: "He will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth." (Is 42:3-4)



Acts 10:36-38


Acts 10:34, And Peter opened his mouth and said: "... 36, You know the word which he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace by Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37, the word which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him.


If we are baptized in the Holy Spirit, if we have received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, if we are bearers of the Holy Spirit, it is so that we might be able to participate, a little, in the mission of Christ, the envoy of the Father, who said to his disciples, the Apostles: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." (Jn 20:21) Following the example of the Lord Jesus, who, in the power of the Holy Spirit, announced the coming of the Kingdom of God by accomplishing a great many miracles, we too, despite our feeble means, but strong with the presence of God, are bearers of the Holy Spirit for the entire world: "You know how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him." (Acts 10:38)



Mt 3:13 & 16-17


Mt 3:13, Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 16, And when Jesus was baptized, he went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and alighting on him; 17, and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, «This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.»


The voice of the Father rarely made itself heard during the life of Jesus. In today's gospel, the Father made himself heard in order to say of his Son, Jesus of Nazareth: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." (Matt 3:17) During the Transfiguration of Jesus, the Father speaks very similar words: "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." (Matt 17:5) But shortly before the Passion of Christ, the Father, to whom Jesus calls with all his strength, replies with these words: "I have glorified my name, and I will glorify it again." (Jn 12:28)


Jesus, who knows everything in the Holy Spirit, is he not already thinking of these last words of the Father when, during his baptism by John, he is still at the beginning of his public life? Has he not thought, since the beginning of his existence, of that salutary Passion, which is his true baptism? "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!" (Lk 12:49-50)


Let us not forget: our baptism in the Holy Spirit will never distance us from suffering, contradiction, or humiliation of any kind. Saint Paul thought it good to remind the Roman faithful: "Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life." (Rom 6:3-4)


The Eucharist being the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ offered in sacrifice, we cannot hope to better vivify in us the presence of the Holy Spirit than by receiving the Body of Christ in communion! Through Mary and with Her, may we become more faithful to our baptism every day, for the Glory of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!



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More homilies on the same Gospel:

http://meynen.homily-service.net/ye99/abaptism.htm
http://meynen.homily-service.net/ye2002/abaptism.htm