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Feast of the Baptism of the Lord Homily

By Mons. Peter Jeffrey

Rather suddenly we move in the Liturgy from the infancy of Jesus with the visits of the Shepherds and then last week the coming of the Wise Men from the East to the beginning of the public ministry of Jesus.

Yet today’s celebration is telling us something very significant about ourselves. Let me tease that out a little. Because we have been baptised in Christ, we can apply to ourselves what we heard about Jesus at His baptism at the Jordan. The Father looks at us with love and says “Here is my beloved son/daughter”. Moreover, the Spirit dwells within us! This is our Christian dignity. While owning that within ourselves, I suggest, we need to ask ourselves “Do I look upon others – the person sitting in the pew beside me here at Mass, or the neighbour in the street at home – as somebody who is indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Reflecting on the contacts and activities in our average day, we may well admit that we do not do this very often. Perhaps we may apply today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord to our interactions with others by adverting to the presence of God within them. Sometimes, we must admit that the presence of God deep within a person often dwells beneath a rough exterior. This applies to ourselves as well as to others.

One way of letting today’s liturgy influence our living may be to go forth from this Mass owning our dignity as sons and daughters of God – or, in other words, thinking of ourselves as “temples of the living God”.

It is easy to miss the fact that Luke mentions that all this happened “while Jesus was at prayer”! The point I want to stress is that Jesus, before He begins His public Ministry, is “praying”!

Think of our own lives. At present, young people are thinking about what courses they might undertake or what employment they might get into. In the home when you are about to make some important, life-changing decision you certainly pause to give it some thought. You may also pray for wisdom and for God to guide you in your endeavours.

Significantly, Luke does not tell us what Jesus prayed only that He prayed. This is a healthy reminder for me, and I suggest for all of us to reflect upon, “Am I a person of prayer who consults with and communicates with the Lord seeking direction and insight before embarking on our way?”

When we pray like this, we imitate Jesus in the relationship He has with His Father; we also imitate the early Christians. We recognise that prayer is not just limited to the liturgy (our Mass at the weekend) or to the formal saying of memorized prayer texts, it is reflecting on our living relationship with the Lord. It is acknowledging that He dwells within us through His gift of grace. We can then seek the Spirit’s guidance calmly and quietly. We can do that because we are growing in the ability to bring our joys and struggles to the Lord. Then we wait in patience for the gentle promptings of the Spirit.

The outcome maybe that we will become more conscious that we are living in all embracing presence of God. Even to just glimpse this, occasionally, is a blessing.

Let us pray in this Mass for that gift and grace for one another.

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