Homily for January 13, 2013 (Baptism of the Lord): Fr. Scott Bullock

January 13, 2013

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Lectionary: 21

Reading 1 Is 42:1-4, 6-7

Responsorial Psalm Ps 29:1-2, 3-4, 3, 9-10.

R. (11b) The Lord will bless his people with peace.

Reading 2 Acts 10:34-38

Gospel Lk 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”



I wish I could communicate to you how marvelous it is to be a priest! What’s so good about it?

Above all, it’s about seeing the Face of God, about constantly being presented with the presence of God, about communion with “the beloved Son of God, in whom the Father is well pleased,” about reminding others that they are beloved children, in whom our Father is well-pleased.

All these can be seen in two memorable experiences of Baptism.

The first was a child to be baptized no larger than my hand. His mother, most concerned about the welfare of son and recognizing his dangerous situation as a premature birth, wanted him joined to the Savior through baptism. Together with his mother, we gathered by the side of her tiny infant boy, took an eye dropper and put the smallest three drops of water over the baby’s head, “baptizing in the name of the father and the son and the Holy Spirit.” A simple gesture, first performed over Christ, assured us in faith that, whatever might happen, this weak child would be a strong son of God. His mom can tell you, now that he is older, that he certainly is strong—maybe stronger than she’d like at times! Baptism is about nothing less than the protecting presence of God the Father, covering us with His love.

A second was a baby girl, much larger than the first, but no less in need of God. The baby was extremely calm, not a peep! When it was time for baptism, her parents brought her to the fount, prayers were completed, then I poured water over her head. Suddenly, this quiet child reacted, her sleeping eyes shot open, and . . . she smiled! Her father shouted out, “She sees God!” Jesus said, “unless you become like children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.” I don’t discount what her father said. It’s not hard to say that perhaps the little girl was more able to see God than we are—no longer Jesus’ children but very logical adults. Baptism is about nothing less that God making it possible to see Him.  Will we look to see him?

Feast of the Baptism of the Lord seems, at first glance, to be about Jesus’ baptism. Yet, it tells us about our own baptisms For we too are beloved sons and daughters, in whom the Father is well-pleased, because he has adopted us in baptism. The effects are most significant: 1) We are cared for. 2) We can see God because we are baptized and chosen as his children. 3) We can be renewed in the presence of God—the freshest of fresh starts. 4) We’re not orphans, we’ve been chosen, adopted, claimed, as God’s children  Baptism means everything—it changes us eternally.

Maybe you don’t feel these effects of baptism now. This is why we come to this altar. The same Lord that came upon you in baptism is ready to do it again—to come to you in the Eucharist we are about to receive. He comes to renew the life he first gave you when you were baptized and claimed as his child.

Watch and see at the moment of Communion what I as a priest so marvelously am able to see again and again—God coming to his people, claiming his children, and renewing them in his love. As you approach communion, see a renewal of your baptism, that first time Christ claimed you as his beloved child. And, see him coming to you again, no matter how unlovely you can be at times, no matter what are your failings. See instead his unfailing love as he again declares you his beloved child, in whom he is well-pleased, in who he most earnestly desires to dwell.