The Baptismal Mission
Luke 3:15-16, 21-22
Today is our baptism Sunday, we welcome Noah into God’s family, and also today’s gospel, we read the baptism of Lord Jesus Christ.
When I was preparing this sermon, trying to some reflection on Baptism, I just found it was always a big topic when I start my ministry journey. “What ‘s difference before and after the baptism, what’s difference of being baptised in church or in a river? What’s the difference of tapping water on head or immerge into the water?
There is a joke about a baptismal service. A drunk stumbles across a baptismal service on Sunday afternoon down by the river. He proceeds to walk down into the water and stand next to the preacher. The minister asks the drunk, “Mister, are you ready to find Jesus?” The drunk says, “Yes, I am.” The minister then immerses the man under the water and pulls him right back up. The preacher asked, “Have you found Jesus?” The drunk said, “No, I didn’t!” The preacher then dunks him under for quite a bit longer, brings him up and says, “Now, brother, have you found Jesus?” The man replied, “No, I did not.” The preacher in disgust holds the man under for at least 30 seconds this time then brings him out of the water and says in a harsh tone, “My God, have you found Jesus yet?” The drunk wipes his eyes and says to the preacher… “Are you sure this is where he fell in?”
Canon Darcey and I both were baptized in Jordan River where Jesus fell in. When I was being baptized, my minister asked me to reflect my mission of baptism, it is called baptismal mission, and at the beginning of each year, I have the habit of reflecting the baptismal mission, I would like to invite you to do it together.
Today’s story from Luke’s Gospel is about an unforgettable baptism. It is the baptism of our Lord. We return to it year after year so we won’t forget. Why? Because it partially defines what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
Most of us who are members of this church have been baptized. It is the one indispensable rite of every Christian congregation. Our Lord was baptized by John in the wilderness. In doing so, Christ set a precedent for every person who would follow him. We were baptized because Jesus was baptized. But remember this, Being baptized doesn’t mean we are perfect. Being baptized doesn’t mean we’ve got our life all together. Being baptized doesn’t even mean we have our theology all worked out. Being baptized simply means that we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, and we have committed ourselves to walk in his footsteps as God grants us His grace.
About Jesus’ baptism. I would like to you to go through three questions with me?
“Why did Jesus receive baptism?”
“What is a valid and licit sacrament of baptism and what are its requirements?”
“what is the relation between the baptism of Jesus and our baptism”
Why did Jesus receive baptism? – Obviously, baptism was not necessary for Jesus because “He was like us in all things, except sin” (Heb 4: 15). By his baptism, Jesus showed his solidarity
with sinful people in their need. Identifying fully with God’s people, Jesus received the Spirit’s anointing to carry out his mission. His mission would ultimately lead to his death on the cross, the fullest measure of his identification with sinful humanity.
Jesus’ baptism is the occasion of the first public revelation of all Three Persons in the Holy Trinity: God the Son received baptism, God the Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus in the form of a dove, and God the Father spoke from heaven: “This is my beloved son with whom I well pleased.”
It is the official revelation of Jesus to the world by God the Father that Jesus is the Son of God. For that reason, the Spirit of God descended upon Him and bore testimony that he is the son of God, the promised Messiah. It was his moment where he made the decision to begin his public ministry. Therefore, this event has been described by all four gospels, it marks the new beginning of live and ministries.
What is a valid and licit sacrament of baptism and what are its requirements – Baptism is conferred by immersion or pouring of the holy water on the forehead with the Trinitarian formula. Catechism 1213 says, “Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life; through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God.”
For a valid baptism, we require three essential elements in accordance with Church law: the matter, the form, and the intention. The required matter is the blessed water. The required form is the Trinitarian formula: “I baptize you in the name of father, son, and the holy spirit.” The required intention is that of the parents for an infant baptism or the intention of the one being baptized for an adult baptism. All other things used in a baptismal ceremony such as the oil, the white cloth, and the candle are required only for the licity or lawfulness of the sacrament. The ordinary minister for baptism is a priest or a deacon, but in a case of necessity, any one with the right intention can administer baptism.
Today on the feast of the baptism of Jesus, it is very important for us to reflect on our own baptism, especially on how faithful we have been in keeping our baptismal vows of “I do” in response to questions like: “Do you reject Satan And all his works? Do you believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, the Holy Spirit, and the holy Catholic Church?”
What is the relation between the baptism of Jesus and our baptism – Jesus’ baptism reminds us who we are, that is, we are members of God’s family. We are reborn as children of God, therefore, we can call upon God as “, Father!”
Jesus teaches us a valuable lesson about the importance of baptism to our redemption and life as Christians. This is not merely a sign, it is a sacrament. We are marked with an indelible spiritual character that we belong to Christ. Since we have the indelible mark of Christ from our baptism, we don’t need to have any other artificial marks on our body.
Through Jesus, we are freed from original sin, and we are enabled to live fully our vocation to holiness, and to inherit eternal life, brought by the resurrection of Jesus.
The reception of the sacrament of baptism has lots of juridical effects. For example, since it is the door to other sacraments, it gives us the right to receive them: Without baptism, we cannot validly receive any other sacrament. Baptism offers us membership in the Church. It also fills us with our rights and obligations as Catholics according to each one’s status in the Church as lay people or clergy.
Finally, the baptism of Jesus invites us to renew our baptismal commitment to live as the children of God – We became children of God by our baptism.
In our baptism we are given our identity. We are now children of God. We are a part of the body of Christ. Our words and our actions should reflect that great truth. Just as Christ humbled himself in obedience to the will of God, so shall we humble ourselves to live in obedience to God’s will that in all things people may see our good works and give thanks to our Father. This is why each year during Epiphany we revisit the event of Christ’s baptism. We see here Christ’s humility and his divinity. And we are reminded of who we are. We are his body at work in the world today, reminding the world that it is loved. We are the children of God, and that is how we are called to live.
We are called to Worship God, We are called to building up community, and we are called to carry on missions… let me ask you this question as the end of this sermon: What is your baptismal mission in this new year?
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.