My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Our prayer today, obviously first of all is for peace, peace in the World. As we were praying in the Responsorial Psalm, we ask God for the blessing of his peace. We’ve seen so many acts of violence, especially the situation in France — the terrorist attack, so we pray for all the victims and everyone involved in that situation.
Well there are so many other situations of violence in the world, so today let us especially pray for peace.
Today, in our liturgical celebration we come to the end of the Christmas season in the liturgy of the Church. As we know, the Christmas season in the Church lasts from Christmas Day, with the birth of our Lord until today, the feast of his Baptism.
And it the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. A beautiful day for all of us in the Church. It is, in a sense, a “birthday” celebration! Because the day of the Lord’s baptism is meant to remind us of our own baptism, which is the day we are born into a new life.
Through our baptism, we share the life of Jesus Christ. A life of intimacy within the divine family of the Trinity — God the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. As you all know, we have that beautiful tapestry in the back of the Cathedral that represents the baptism of our Lord.
A special moment in the life of Jesus and in the history of Redemption. But, as I said, his baptism is especially — beautiful and striking that beautiful tapestry in the back of the Cathedral — his baptism is a sign of our own baptism. Really Jesus didn’t “need” to be baptized. He is not a sinner. He is true God and true man.
So as we contemplate that beautiful sin and today especially reflect on the baptism of the Lord, I’m sure that we are asking ourselves why did he do it?
The answer is that Jesus was baptized for us. He didn’t need to be baptized but he accepted it because it was part of the Father’s plan of salvation.
So when Jesus comes to the river, as we heard in our Gospel today, he is coming to share in our human reality and to show us the way to find salvation.
So you and I — and every person — we all need to come to the water. We all need to come to the river of life, the rivers of living water that flow from the heart of Jesus Christ.2 Everyone needs to be baptized, just like Jesus was.
Pope Francis says, and I think I talked about this last year also, we should all know the date when we were baptized and we should celebrate our baptism day like we celebrate our birthdays.3
I was born on December 26th, and I was baptized on January 5th. So my parents, as you can see, were good Catholics. They immediately took me to the baptized. So I know that most of you know when it is. If not, make sure that you look and check it out. Because it is a special moment when we were reborn to be sons and daughters of God.
In the passage of the Gospel today, we hear those beautiful words from God:
And a voice came from the heavens,
“You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
This is who Jesus is. He is the Beloved, the Son of God. But my dear brothers and sisters, this is also who we are. Beloved sons and daughters of God.
On the day of your Baptism, the Spirit came down upon you and God the Father declared: “You are my beloved son. You are my beloved daughter. I am pleased with you! I’m happy that you are here!” Receiving the gift of baptism.
God said that about you and about me! What an amazing, wonderful gift.
So that’s why it is so special for us to celebrate this beautiful feast day and that’s why it is so important for us to know when we were baptized.
But with the gift of baptism, we also received the duty and responsibility to lead our lives as children of God. And obviously the best way to do it is to follow Jesus Christ, to live just like Jesus lived.
As we heard in the second reading of today’s Mass:
For the love of God is this,
That we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome, for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
So as beloved sons and daughters of God, we are called to keep his commandments, to conquer the world with our faith. Through baptism, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us — the Christian, the Catholic is sacramentally assimilated to Jesus.
We are called to be another Christ. Christ himself.
And as you all know, today also marks the beginning of the “public life” of our Lord Jesus Christ. The time in his life when he started preaching and healing and calling people to conversion.
So my brothers and sisters, as we try to see what is the best way to be good children of God, let’s try to look at the life of Jesus. And we all are called, like Jesus, to be a light to the nations. To open the eyes of the blind as we heard in the first reading of the Mass. To bring out the prisoners from confinement and from the dungeon those who live in darkness.
It’s a beautiful mission. It’s a mission to bring to the people the real meaning of their lives. Who they are. What they are called to do. And we are called to do it in the simplicity of our daily lives.
So this year and especially this coming week, let us try to live our ordinary life with this awareness that we are children of God and that we have this beautiful, special mission to be missionary disciples.
So let’s try to be more like Jesus this year. To get closer to him. And to love and help one another. To be more forgiving, more patient, more understanding of others. To bring the good news of the beauty and value of life. The gift of peace, the new commandment of loving one another.
Isn’t that a beautiful mission? Isn’t that what we all are called to do in the simplicity of our daily life. And today, let us ask for the grace to renew our desire to be good, faithful sons and daughters of God.
Finally, today, we also want to pray, especially for Pope Francis because tomorrow he is starting a pastoral journey to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. May his pilgrimage be a special time of grace for the people of those countries and for the universal Church. Let’s accompany our Holy Father Pope Francis in this apostolic trip.
And let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother to help us to grow in our love for God our Father. So that we will always know that we are his beloved sons and daughters and we’re missionary disciples of the love of God.
1. Readings (Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Year B): Isa. 42:1-4, 6-7; Ps. 29:1-4, 9-10; 1 John 5:1-9; Mark 1:7-11.
2. John 7:38; Rev. 22:1.
3. General Audience (January 8, 2014).