Homily 2nd Sunday Ordinary Time - Baptism

Homily (Sermon) – Baptism

The Readings for Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 49:3,5-6
Psalm 39
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
John 1:29-34
[ All these readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

I love the fact that our community of churches works together in the way it does. The idea of visiting each other on this weekend is fantastic. It’s the second time I have been invited here and I am full of joy at being able to come back.

I am a deacon at Our Lady of Lourdes, just 100 yards in that direction. I am a Catholic and am proud to say did most of my theological study at the Wesley Methodist College. The readings we have heard today are the same readings that would have been read at Catholic services around the world today and also at services in a lot of other denominations. The Gospel reading is about Baptism, the sacrament that unites all Christian denominations. We all believe that Baptism is the welcome into the Church; it’s the point at which we become Christian.

The one odd thing about our Gospel today is that it’s Jesus who is Baptised. There has only been one man who didn’t need the gifts of baptism, and that was Jesus. As John describes the Baptism in today’s Gospel we realise that one reason for Jesus’ baptism was to show John, and the people, who Jesus was. The Holy Spirit descending from heaven and resting on Him, was confirmation for John the Baptist, that this was the Christ. The man and God he had been sent to pave the way for. The other reason we hear about Jesus’ baptism is that we now share it. Christ’s baptism was for us. As John baptised Jesus with water, Jesus now baptises us with the holy spirit. We share Christ’s baptism.

Baptism mean plunge, Christ was fully immersed in the Jordon. This descent into the water and return to the air, is the journey we share with Christ, as he died on the cross, descended into hell, defeated death and rose again to eternal life. Because baptism is a moment we really share with Jesus, we share in Christ’s death and in His victory over death.

Pope Francis over the last two weeks has been speaking about baptism. He challenged all the people who gather in St Peter’s square last week to remember or find out the date they were baptised, the date on which their Christian journey started. An important date and one which I think all too many of us, including myself, either forget or don’t know. I offer you today that same challenge, if you don’t know the day you were baptised try and find out and celebrate that day. Celebrate your Christian life.

Baptism frees us from sin. It's not a magical spell that means we will never be naughty or bad again. But the gift of God's grace, a grace that will, through our whole life strengthen us to resist the bad things God hates and to do the good things God loves. Because of our baptism the Holy Spirit will live with us, and support us all our Christian life.

But what is a Christian life. It’s a life of service to our God and to our fellow man. William Temple, the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1940’s once said, “The Church is the only organisation that does not exist for itself, but for those who live outside of it.” That’s a message worth remembering and acting on. Today we are reaching out of our individual Christian communities to other Christian communities, and while that is a great thing we are called to do more, we are called to reach further, to work for those who don’t know Christ, to serve them and show them Christ’s love.

Baptism is a gift, it’s a joy, it’s a moment shared with Christ that enables us to live a life filled with Christ’s joy. You, all of you, are brothers and sister of Jesus. Go out into the world and share that joy.

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