January 12, 2020 – The Baptism of the Lord

Today, we celebrate the baptism of Our Lord which was described in the gospel of Matthew, bringing the Christmas celebration to its conclusion.  The question we need to ask today is, does Jesus actually need baptism if it is for sinners?  Why did he get baptized?  Jesus only got baptized because he wants to identify with us sinners.  He stands in solidarity with us.  Think for a moment how sinful each of us is. How we have been lured by our self-centered priorities, power and lust, blinded by our greed, prejudice, lies, anger, revenge, and so forth.

Today, our society wants to minimize the fact that we are all sinners by reminding us how good we are.  I think, for example, that famous song by Luke Bryan, “I believe most people are good and most mama’s oughta qualify for sainthood” where he further says, “ain’t nothing you should ever be ashamed of, I believe this world ain’t half as bad as it looks”.  How I wish that were true!

Without being a prophet of doom, the truth is that we are all sinners and being nice in the worldly standard does not qualify for being good before God.  St. John reminds us, “if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves” (1 Jn. 1:8).  That is why today’s solemnity is a celebration of hope for us.  Jesus understands and knows that we are all sinners and that is why He identifies with us.  His grace is there to make us good and better people.  Are we ready to invite him to work in us?  Today, in his baptism, Christ’s identity is revealed to us by the voice from heaven that says, “this is my beloved Son”.

Dearest ones, remember, it is into this Christ’s identity that each of us is baptized.  We need to look at our lives now to see whether it is still true to that identity, answering the question whether our lives mirror that of Christ and whether we are another Christ to our neighbors and friends.  Can you proudly say to your friends, imitate me as I imitate Christ?  In Jesus’ answer to John, “it is fitting to fulfill all righteousness” simply means, it is good to live by God’s will doing all that he commands.  Imitation of Christ can only be done through doing his Father’s will as he did.