Alas! I am still ruminating on the homily about the Holy Family that I heard on their feast day. It has made it difficult for me to reflect on anything else, hence, I failed to post a reflection on the Baptism of the Lord. I wondered what the parishioners of the unfortunate parish where I heard that homily would be listening to for the homily of the Lord's baptism. Would they be convicted of what they truly are? Sinners in need of cleansing? Would they be made to believe the consequences of impenitence: death and eternal separation from God? Would the astounding story of Christ’s adult manifestation penetrate their hearts with wonder and deep gratitude as they learned of His taking upon His shoulders our sin and bearing them off as the Lamb of God. Or would they be affirmed in seeing only what they want to see in their faith and nothing more. But there is so much more.
Arise! Shine, for your light has come, the glory of the LORD has dawned upon you.In our own time we live in a tedious era. An era where every sign and every type that prefigures the salvation that comes to us in Christ is so self-consciously chained to the temporal, we become myopic in our spiritual vision. We diminish our pious devotion to the treasures that have been given to us through the Law, the Prophets, through the faith of our early Church Fathers and thus we untether our faith from the Sacred Tradition that orders us to grow in virtue. Mists of error become deep doubts, and those doubts begins to rule all of our thoughts. We become cynical to the idea of growing in virtue. More and more we fall into spiritual complacency and presumption. We cannot comprehend the reality of Scriptural symbolism; we chalk them up to exaggerations and manipulations, yet it is we who are manipulated away from the saving power that our baptism has given us.
Give to the LORD, you sons of God, give to the LORD glory and might; Give to the LORD the glory due his name. Bow down before the LORD’s holy splendor! The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over the mighty waters. The voice of the LORD is power; the voice of the LORD is splendor. Psalm 29:1-4And this is why a homily disputing the perfection and piety of the Holy Family is such a problem. Because through their piety Mary and Joseph were free to discern and respond to the Lord. Through their piety they humbly did not dismiss what they did not understand but instead pondered and prayed. Through their piety the Son manifested Himself in shining glory for all generations to be guided by, and you and I are called to that same glory. Through our piety we become malleable souls for the Lord to recreate us in the splendor our baptism has destined us for. To reject that is to reject your baptism, and your salvation.
So let us look to the Scriptures with eyes of wonder and with hearts full of hope., cast off the blinding banality of self-serving spirituality. Let us with pondering hearts see the signs and receive the true life that Christ is pouring out upon us, and let us bring it to those who are dwelling in darkness. For our cultural darkness is growing, but His light is brighter still.
Today let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed. Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist. He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven. You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received — though not in its fullness — a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.
From a Sermon by Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, bishop
The baptism of Christ