From the pastor’s desk
The Baptism of the Lord – the offer of God’s grace, peace and love to us
Today we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. He did not have sin or any need to be baptized by John the Baptist. John’s baptism was a ceremonial washing which symbolized Israel’s crossing of the Red sea in which God saved Israel and destroyed their enemies. It signified conversion or passage from the life of sin and determination to be holy. It was a pledge to live for God and welcome the things of God. It was within this context that John the Baptist bore witness to Jesus that He is the ‘One’ coming after him, who is mightier, who was going to baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus did not have to subject himself to John’s baptism because he did not have any sin. As the sinless son of God on whom, the Father’s favor rests, he still subjected himself to John’s baptism: (a) to fulfill the scriptures; (b) to begin his earthly ministry; (c) to make holy the waters of baptism through which Satan, sin and death would be destroyed. By so doing, to offer us a life of grace and make us children of God, who put on Christ and have become a new creation in his spirit.
The preparation for Jesus’ ministry includes the work of the Baptist. With Christ’s baptism at the River Jordan, baptism will become a sacrament, the gate-way into God’s Kingdom, by means of The Church.
Those who are baptized are given a share in Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and are called to resemble him and imitate his holiness and virtues as the Servant of Yahweh. He is that ideal Servant who brings justice to humanity not through military power and violence.
He is that Servant of God who through his gentleness and peaceful personality brings justice to all.
This is the good news proclaimed by St. Peter to Cornelius and his household. It is still, the good news to each of us today that in the person of Jesus Christ, God is offering His grace, peace and Love to us. By our baptism into Christ, we are already children of God. For that reason, let us take seriously the vows we made in our own baptism. Reject sin; reject evil; say always ‘no’ to Satan and all his deadly and evil works. Say always ‘yes’ to God. Pledge and give undivided loyalty to God the Father, to His Son, Jesus Christ and to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love, truth and holiness.
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD